"I felt like I let those guys down in the locker room," the Baltimore Ravens receiver told reporters on Thursday. "So for me to come back and play, it's to show them that I am dependable and they can depend on me. And to show you jack----- that at 37 years old, I can still play. And I'm sick of ya'll telling how can you depend on a 37-year-old to play this game after a ruptured Achilles'."
Smith planned to retire after last season, but his brilliant play before the November injury -- he was averaging 95-plus yards per game -- changed his mind. After passing his physical this week, Smith is expected to practice "soon," per the team.
On Thursday, Smith grew emotional talking about the commitment he felt toward the Ravens, saying: "I really came back, not to really set any records but more because this organization gave me an opportunity. And when I got hurt, I felt like I let those guys down in the locker room."
Smith also playfully and predictably unloaded on the straw-man naysayers who asked if his comeback was an ill-fated plan.
"I rehabbed for nine months," Smith said. "While y'all sitting around twiddling your thumbs I was sitting there four or five days a week for nine months trying to rehab to get back on the field. I intend to lay everything out, not for myself, but for the people who believed in me, the people that invested in me 10 years ago, the people that thought that I would only be there for a minute. So this is just a chance for me to say thank you to them, (to) finish what an organization allowed me to start."
If healthy, there's no reason to believe Smith can't be a game-changer this season. Age hasn't mattered in his case, with the receiver actually looking faster as a Raven than he did at the end of his Panthers career.
Still, Smith's injury is complicated -- one plenty don't rebound from -- but Smith on Thursday was already lobbing fireballs at would-be opponents, saying: "I'm not in this business to make friends. So if you're not in the same jersey as me, I plan to rip you to shreds, bottom line.
"The bully's back," said Smith. "That's all I've got to say. Vacation is over for the DBs."