|4th Round (109th Overall)|
|1999 - 2011||Defensive End, Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Super Bowl||XL, XLIII|
|Hall of Honor||2023|
When Aaron Smith retired from the Steelers, he wanted to just quietly walk away from the game, no fanfare, no attention.
It was typical of Smith, who just wanted to quietly walk away from the game he loved.
The Steelers, though, were able to convince Smith to join three of his former teammates, Willie Parker, Joey Porter and Marvel Smith, for a ceremony during the team's training camp where the four of them shared the stage to say goodbye to Steelers Nation.
And it was a salute that Smith deserved.
"It was big," said Smith at the time of his retirement. "First of all, it's the greatest organization in professional sports. Just the way they handle things, do business, the record speaks for itself and the fans, to be a part of something and to finish it is great.
"There are people who would dream of being on this team their entire career. Guys come back to retire. It's a special place and to be a part of that is special."
Smith had a similar feel when he was elected to the Steelers Hall of Honor, one of understanding the greatness of the organization and what it all means.
"It's hard to describe," said Smith. "You played for a team with the legacy and tradition the Steelers have and to be put into a group with the names that are on the wall, you almost don't believe you belong. A lot of those guys are the greatest football players that ever played this game. It's humbling and I am honored just to be in the same sentence as them."
Smith was drafted by the Steelers in the fourth round of the 1999 NFL Draft, the 109th overall pick, and went on to play 13 seasons. He was a two-time Super Bowl champion, playing on the Super Bowl XL and XLIII teams. He was selected to the Pro Bowl in 2004 and was named to the Sports Illustrated 2000s All-Decade Team.
Smith, who played his entire career in black and gold, finished with 44 sacks while playing in 160 games, starting 152 of them. He added nine fumble recoveries and seven forced fumbles, along with one interception.
"It was carrying on the tradition," said Smith of playing for the Steelers defense and winning Super Bowls. "When you become a Steeler, there is a level of expectation, of excellence and you put forth your best effort. To be a part of that, contribute and carry on that legacy and tradition is immense. Anybody that puts on the uniform feels that. That expectation is to win the Super Bowl. I thought it was a joke when I came here, and in the first team meeting Coach (Bill) Cowher said we are here to win the Super Bowl. I was like, let's just win the first game. But that is the level of expectation here."
In addition to his on-field contributions, Smith showed his vulnerable side when he revealed his son, Elijah, was undergoing treatment for leukemia during his playing days. Smith didn't just share the story, but also shared his passion for helping those fighting the same disease as the family participated in the Leukemia Lymphoma Society Light the Night Walk along with teammates, family, friends and Steelers staff, celebrating Elijah being a survivor year after year.
"I don't think we can have enough awareness," said Smith at the time. "I was naïve before I went through this. I don't think another family or child should have to go through this. I don't think we can bring enough awareness to this."
Check out the greatest photos of Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Aaron Smith.