- The Washington Times - Monday, August 10, 2015

RICHMOND — Wide receiver Steve Smith said following the Baltimore Ravens’ practice on Monday that he would retire after the 2015 season, setting an end date for one of the most fiery receivers in NFL history.

That news reached Washington Redskins cornerback DeAngelo Hall after morning walkthrough. Hall and Smith tangled for years in the NFC South when Smith played for the Carolina Panthers and Hall was a cornerback for the Atlanta Falcons. Their relationship evolved from very close, to engulfed in fury, to one that has leveled with each into their 30s.

“We’ve had some great battles, me and Steve,” Hall said. “Hell of a receiver, man. I think he can still play. But, I respect him wanting to leave the game on his own terms. Shoot, I wish him nothing but the best, man. We used to be real, real, real, real good friends. Still a fan of his. Nothing but respect for him.”

In the mid 2000s, their dispute was at a full boil. Hall called a touchdown Smith scored on him a “fluke.” Smith referred to Hall as a “court jester” when referring to himself as the king. Both went to the Pro Bowl in 2005 and 2006. Hall said leaving the conference has helped quell the animosity between the two after being in the same division initially made them friends.

“I think seeing a guy twice a year kind of makes you close,” Hall said. “We were the same kind of player. Fiery, passionate, wore our emotions on our sleeves. So, you know, we kind of got along. At the same time, we could be just as big enemies as we can friends.

“I think now, we’re definitely real cordial. I don’t go to their house anymore. But, right now, it’s probably just, I wouldn’t say courtesy, but professional respect. I’ve been doing it for a while, he’s been doing it for a while; nothing but love and respect for him, man. The guy is a hell of a football player. If he was 6-3, 205, he might go down as the best ever. But, being 5-10, or 5-9, 190, he still was probably top 10 in my book because the kid can flat-out go. I’m counting down his yards with him. He’s got [637 receiving yards] to crack the top 10 [all-time]. I’m rooting for him, man, because he’s definitely on my list of toughest covers, hands down.”

Smith, who has four children, is going into his 16th season. Hall is entering his 13th and has a 13-year-old. Hearing that Smith said it was time to “be a dad,” Hall could relate.

“That’s what’s probably ultimately going to do it for me,” Hall said. “I don’t think it’s going to be, ‘Can I still do it out here?’ I think it’s going to be me wanting to spend more time at home with the kids and really interact, coach them up and be a dad. You spend so much time gone playing this game, when it’s time to hang it up, you miss it, but at the same time, I think the other things at home kind of outweigh you missing the game of football a little bit. I’ve got respect for him doing it, for going ahead and saying it.”

The Redskins play the Ravens in a preseason game on Aug. 29.

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