Smith tearful as he calls it a career |

Smith tearful as he calls it a career

ENGLEWOOD ” Broncos receiver Rod Smith broke out a pair of dark, designer shades and his two Super Bowl rings for the occasion, wearing one on each hand.

The rings were a reminder of what once was, the shades to hide the tears.

Smith stepped into a room full of family, friends and teammates Thursday and announced his NFL career was done.

He tried to tell a joke to start things off, but his usual wisecracks failed him. Instead, he pulled a tissue from his pocket and dabbed at his eyes. Saying farewell wasn’t easy.

“I gave them everything I had,” Smith said as he choked up while announcing his retirement.

For that, Broncos president and CEO Pat Bowlen was truly appreciative, calling Smith the best Broncos player not named John Elway that he’s ever had play for him.

“If I ever get anybody like you or like John again, I’m going to be very fortunate,” Bowlen said.

Smith, 38, had been on the reserve/retired list since February and has had two hip operations in the past year and a half. He’s the franchise’s career leader in every major receiving category.

“Rod is the only person I’ve ever been around on a consistent basis, day in and day out, that never cared about his stats,” Broncos coach Mike Shanahan said. “All Rod talked about was winning.”

His numbers were nice, though. Smith holds franchise records for career receptions (849), yards receiving (11,389), touchdown catches (68), touchdowns (71) and 100-yard games (31).

The former Missouri Southern star also leads undrafted players in every major receiving category.

As for his immediate future, that’s easy ” yard work. Lots of it. That will be followed by spending time with his kids and finishing up a few real estate ventures.

“From Day 1 when I came into this building, I’ve always thought about the end,” Smith said. “I never knew when it was going to be. I’ve always prepared myself for life after football. But football kept getting in the way ” for 14 years, thank God.

“I’m going to miss the locker room. If I didn’t do anything else, I hope I was a great teammate. All I ever wanted to do was win.”

The Broncos would welcome Smith’s return to the team as a coach. Either that or as a mentor for the young receivers, a role he’s already serving with Brandon Marshall, accompanying him to a meeting with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently to discuss Marshall’s string of off-the-field legal troubles.

“I would like him to be involved in some capacity,” Shanahan said. “Right now, I think it’s a little bit too soon for him, but we would always have a spot if he wants to come back in some capacity, and I hope he does.”

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