By taking down the New England Patriots on a last second field goal to take a 31-30 victory, the Baltimore Ravens avenged a very tough 2012 AFC Championship game in which Billy Cundiff missed an easy 32-yard field goal, leading to another successful Ravens season cut short before the Super Bowl. The Baltimore Ravens extended their 12-game home winning streak along with 20 of the last 21 games. The Baltimore Ravens finally picked up their first win in seven tries against the Tom Brady led Patriots.
But this wasn’t about the Baltimore Ravens (or the abysmal replacement refs). This was about the resolve and pure strength of not the wide reciever Torrey Smith but the man Torrey Smith.
It was revealed to Smith literally hours before this ever so important Sunday Night Football game that his 19-year-old brother, Tevin, had died from a motorcycle accident. I can’t even comprehend the emotional roller coaster of losing someone in my direct family and then finding the fortitude to go on to play a sport – and no one expected as much from Smith, as he could have skipped this game with little to no criticism.
But this wasn’t an option for the man. He felt as though he had a commitment to both his families.
“I have my family, and I have you as my family,” Smith told his teammates after the game. “I couldn’t have done it without you guys.”
When the game began, the crowd gave a moment of silence for Tevin. Even from the perspective of a television viewer, you could literally feel the emotion in the stadium. There was more to this night than football.
If playing in the game wasn’t enough, Smith played a game that would finish as the best of his NFL career. After falling behind 13-0 early on in the first quarter, Smith kicked off their comeback with a pretty 25-yard touchdown down the sideline. Once crunch time officially began in the fourth quarter, Smith collected another touchdown, this time from five yards away to pull the Ravens in field goal range of a victory. By the time Justin Tucker knocked in a 27-yard field goal over one of the uprights, Smith had collected six catches, 127 yards and the respect of the entire nation.
It is true that the Ravens would not have won this game without Smith. How do athletes in tough situations often find ways to excel? It’s something that can’t be explained. His performance will make many journalists’ jobs easier and also make the football audience remember why the backstories of sports are what makes them so interesting to follow. But that’s not what Sunday night was about.
Sunday night was about the epitome of perseverance. The Dictionary.com definition is as such, “steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.” Smith played in this game despite the fact that he not only lost his younger brother but lost someone he had become a father figure toward because of his mother’s dedication to her job and school. His tweet that this death is “the hardest thing ever” shows the pain Smith must have been feeling in his chest throughout the night. But he felt as though he had a job to do and wouldn’t let this seemingly insurmountable emotional obstacle get in the way of playing the sport of football. Of persevering.
Luckily, he had the support and love from the Ravens organization. From the team’s chapel service, to the time to open up and cry in the locker room, to the team meal in which Smith received multiple pats on the back, they helped him step by step from the moment they found out about this tragedy.
“My teammates, I love them to death and they helped me get through this,” he said.
In the end, though, he had to make the decision to play in this football game. Not one person in his Baltimore community expected him to go out there and run his routes. Not one person wanted him to force his way onto the field if he didn’t feel up for it.
But he did, and that’s what makes this story so special. Smith showed the nation that even on our toughest day, when we think all the silver linings have disappeared and grieving is the only solution, it is possible to persevere. Smith showed the nation what it means to be a true warrior.
Ignite the Site!