Tom Brady ‘would have loved’ to play with this former NFL wide receiver originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
Tom Brady played with a lot of great pass-catchers during his NFL career with the New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The most notable names include Randy Moss, Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman, Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, among others.
One player Brady didn’t get a chance to play with is Steve Smith Sr.
“There are some guys who are athletes’ athletes. Those are the guys who I love,” Brady said in a recent interview with Patrick Bet-David. “I went to a preseason game the other day and I saw Steve Smith. He was a receiver for Baltimore and Carolina. I (expletive) love Steve Smith because he wanted to kill the defensive backs. He was a little dude but played with the biggest heart. I would have loved to play with Steve Smith.”
Smith spent 13 seasons with the Panthers from 2001 to 2013. He helped the Panthers get to Super Bowl XXXVIII during the 2003 season, where they lost to Brady and the Patriots in a 32-29 thriller. Smith tallied four receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown in that game.
Smith was a free agent in 2014 after being released by the Panthers. He has admitted the Patriots had interest in him at the time, and that head coach Bill Belichick even called him to talk about the opportunity.
But Smith ultimately chose to sign a three-year, $11.5 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens that offseason.
“I had spoken to Coach Belichick personally when I was at the airport on my way to Baltimore,” Smith said in March of 2014, per the Baltimore Sun.
“We had a conversation that indicated that they were very interested in me. And I was also open to going there as well, but I really felt like after sitting here that this is the place that I felt would best fit me and they convinced me that I would fit in here very well.”
The Patriots and Ravens met in the AFC Divisional Round during the 2014 playoffs and New England won 35-31 in one of the best postseason matchups of the Brady/Belichick era.
It also was Smith’s last playoff game, and his career ended in 2016 with zero Super Bowl rings.
It’s fun to look back and think how productive a Brady-Smith duo would have been in Foxboro. Two players who were ultra talented and always played with a chip on their shoulder — in many ways, it would have been a perfect match.