While no one has ruled that out explicitly, Smith himself seems to be strongly signaling that he will hang it up.
As reported by Post Gazette Steelers beat writer Ed Bouchette, Aaron Smith took out a full page ad in the Post Gazette to say good bye and thank Steel City Fans for their support.
Steel Curtain Rising's editorial policy is normally not to publish verbatium texts from other sites. But in this case an exception is being made because Smith's message shows just how much of a class act he was and how great the Steelers orgaization remains.
According to Bouchette, the following text can be found on page D-7 of the Sunday March 11th Post Gazette:
Dear Steelers Fans,Good Bye and Good Luck Aaron
As of today, I am no longer a member of the Pittsburgh Steelers. I leave the field and Steelers with no regrets, and am grateful to have played for such a tremendous organization. I feel truly blessed to have spent my entire professional career in the best town, playing for the most loyal fans who have loved and supported myself and my family.
The last 13 years of our lives have been special because of the people who cheered me on, and I am truly fortunate to have been a part of the Steelers, the City of Pittsburgh and the Steelers Nation. You have opened your arms and your hearts to us as a family and we will never forget that. Your support, enthusiasm, love and dedication are gifts I will carry with me my entire life.
I may no longer be on the Steelers active roster, but I will always be a Steeler and will never forget the people who made it all worthwhile -- the fans, the Rooneys, the front office, the equipment guys and trainers, my teammates and family. Thank you for supporting me over the last 13 years, and I hope you will support me in whatever future path life will take me on.
We plan on making Pittsburgh our home and I will endeavor for the rest of my days to find a way to thank each and every one of you personally for all that you have done and meant for me and my family. You cheered for me for 13 years and now I cheer for you for the rest of my life. You will always be in my heart, thoughts and prayers. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for allowing me to have the job of a lifetime. You will always be in my heart.
Your friend always,
Aaron Smith and Family, No. 91
As Bouchette points out, Alan Fanaca is the only player he can remember taking out an ad in the newspaper to say good bye to the fans. Oliver Gibson, a nose tackle the Steelers drafted out of Notre Dame in 1995 did something similar when he left for Cincinnati in 1999, by publishing a letter to the editor in the Steelers Digest.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are a franchise which yields nothing to anyone else when it comes to the legacy of their defensive line. In 13 years of play, Aaron Smith earned the right to have his name spoken in the same breath as Ernie Stauntner, Joe Greene, L.C. Greenwood, Ernie Holmes and Dwight White.
This is truly a touching way for Smith to end his time as a Steeler. Aaron Smith, Steelers Nation thanks you for your contributions and your sacrifices and wishes you the best!
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