When the conversation on Thursday night’s “NFL Gameday Kickoff” show turned to the Baltimore Ravens’ overhauled wide receiver corps, Michael Irvin’s memory might have slipped up, and with the worst possible person sitting two seats away from him.
While discussing Joe Flacco’s new group of receivers, Irvin posited that Michael Crabtree might be the first “I trust you” receiver that Flacco has had since Anquan Boldin in 2012, the season when the Ravens won the Super Bowl.
That didn’t sit right with one Steve Smith, who was also sitting at the table and immediately began wondering aloud if Irvin might have forgotten someone. Smith, of course, posted 2,534 receiving yards in three seasons with Baltimore, nearly as much as Boldin’s 2,645 during his Ravens tenure, which also spanned three years.
“So you’re telling me they haven’t had a wide receiver since Anquan?” Smith said.
Irvin seemed to quickly pick up on what Smith was poking at, and threw out a rationale for why Smith didn’t qualify.
“You played there and you got hurt, so, and he had to go through it, because you talked about it. those injuries, I’m with you on that,” Irvin said.
At that point, Smith started spitting his trademark venom.
“Yeah, I went through the injuries, but Anquan wasn’t the only baller on there. I understand you have the rings, but I passed you statistically years ago,” Smith said. “There ain’t no route I could run that you hoped you could run. I got a doctorate in route running, you got an associate’s degree from community college.”
What’s truly amazing about Smith’s comeback to Irvin’s somewhat subtle put-down is that he didn’t start claiming he was a better receiver than Boldin, the player he was actually being compared to; he started insisting that he was a better receiver than the Hall of Famer sitting across from him.
Such an exchange should rest any worry that Smith has softened in retirement.
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