As anticipated, the call was placed. As expected, the answer was no.
That about sums up the brief and unfulfilling pursuit of retired tailback
Robert Smith by Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick earlier this week, a
flirtation that no one felt had even a longshot chance of succeeding, but
one deemed worthy of making.
Still seeking to upgrade from his current options at tailback in the wake of
Jamal Lewis' season-ending knee injury, Billick confirmed he phoned the
former Minnesota Vikings star earlier this week and that Smith reiterated he
Billick said that Smith is "emphatic" about not returning to the NFL and
that stance is no surprise to Neil Cornrich, the agent for the running back.
"There are," Cornrich said, "things he wants to do. It was a natural that
Coach Billick would call Robert, and there certainly were hints he would do
so. But it's no surprise to me, at the same time, that Robert declined the
invitation to discuss coming back."
The Ravens coach told ESPN's Chris Mortensen on Monday that he would
consider Smith as a replacement, but that he had not yet called him.
Billick was the offensive coordinator for the Vikings during much of Smith's
tenure as the Vikings' feature running back. The Ravens are still
considering various scenarios at tailback, have signed veteran Terry Allen,
but have acknowledged they will pursue other options as well.
Still working to get himself in shape, Allen is not expected to play in a
preseason game until next week.
Smith, 29, retired earlier this spring after eight seasons with the Vikings.
The team's No. 1 choice in the 1993 draft, the former Ohio State star played
in 98 games and rushed for 6,818 yards and 32 touchdowns in a career
sometimes interrupted by injury problems.