The NFL isn’t the same when its most colorful wide receiver isn’t a part of it, so when Steve Smith Sr. announced that the 2015 season would be his last, football fans uttered a collective groan. Things got worse quickly when Smith tore his Achilles in November and was lost for the season. Smith wasn’t going out like that, though, and the 37-year-old quickly made the decision that he would work as hard as he could to come back and play a 16th season. So hard, in fact, that throwing up became as much a part of his routine as did lifting weights.
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Bleacher Report ran a feature on Smith’s off-season in which the Baltimore Ravens wide receiver worked through exercises like Single-Leg Box Jumps, sprints to mimic the explosion he’ll need off the line of scrimmage, running on an anti-gravity treadmill, and much, much more. In total, Smith says he rehabbed four to five days a week for nine months to get back to where he needed to be. Smith’s trainer with the Ravens, Sam Bell, had a list of exercises he wanted Smith to do each day, sometimes totaling 25 or more. Smith obliged, going as hard as he could with everything—many times until he had to pause to vomit. From the piece:
He gets about halfway through the set and abruptly stops. He gives his trainer a look and walks swiftly out the open garage door, onto the dock. The rap music is loud but not loud enough to drown out the sound of retching.
Smith spends about a minute at the edge of the dock, aiming for a patch of weeds below. Then he walks back, wipes his face, gargles with water, gathers himself and takes a big gulp of Gatorade. He’s ready to start again.
This isn’t the first time this summer he could not keep his breakfast where it belonged. In fact, he admits, it’s the third or fourth.
“I know I’ve turned the corner when I puke,” Smith says.
As awful as all that throwing up sounds, Smith, who once thought he’d have to sit out all of training camp, officially returned to action on Wednesday, vowing to come back as good and as fiery as ever.
“If you’re not in the same jersey as me, I plan to rip you to shreds,” Smith said.