Former two-time Buffalo Bills tight end Lee Smith announced his retirement on Tuesday. Smith grew up in my hometown – Knoxville, Tennessee – and went to my same middle school. He went to my high school for two years before transferring to Powell High School north of Knoxville for his junior and senior seasons. Smith was an all-around athlete, highly recruited by The University of Tennessee. However, he went to Marshall University. Smith was named to the Conference USA All-Academic team.
His NFL Career
Smith was drafted in the fifth round of the 2011 NFL Draft by the New England Patriots, but would not make the final 53-man roster. His first stint in Buffalo was difficult. His first four years saw the disastrous tenures of Chan Gailey and Doug Marrone. After his first stint in Buffalo, Smith would spend four years with the Oakland Raiders. Smith would play for Jack Del Rio and Jon Gruden.
Smith returned to Buffalo for his second stint with the Bills for the 2019 season. In Week 3 of 2020, he caught a one-yard touchdown reception agains the Rams. Then, he went on the reserve/COVID-19 list. In Week 16 vs. the New England Patriots, Smith caught two passes: one for 27 yards, and a four-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen. After the season, the Bills traded Smith to the Atlanta Falcons for a 2022 seventh-round draft pick. Smith spent one season with the Falcons.
Smith recorded 73 receptions, 523 receiving yards, and 11 touchdowns during his NFL career.
Outside of football, Smith runs an elite training center to mentor young kids and turn them into athletes. He also wants to keep kids out of trouble and show them ways of coping with life off the field.
Should he retire as a Bill?
Even when players have a significant role on teams, they don’t play for the same team forever. Brett Favre didn’t always play for the Packers. He played for the Jets and Vikings. Yet, he retired as a Packer. While Tom Brady’s a Buccaneer right now, I think we all know that he’ll retire as a Patriot. Many of Lee Smith’s best moments were in Buffalo, and I believe that he contributed a lot to the Bills. I would sign that one-day contract and retire in Western New York as a Buffalo Bill if I were him.