There may not have been an NFL game filled with as much emotion, as much heart-ache for a player since Brett Favre played after the death of his father in 2003.
But there was 23-year-old Torrey Smith on Sunday night, suiting up and taking the field for the Baltimore Ravens less than 24 hours after the death of his brother, Tevin, in a motorcycle crash in Northern Virginia.
Sleep-deprived after being up most of the night with his family, Smith wiped away tears after the Ravens honored his brother with a moment of silence, then did what he does: he caught six passes for 127 yards and scored two touchdowns in the Ravens’ 31-30 victory over the New England Patriots. The decision to play was his.
He had left the team’s hotel at 1 a.m. and rejoined the Ravens around 4 p.m. “It was tough emotionally. I didn’t know how well I’d hold up, but thanks to my teammates and coaches and all the support from everyone around the league, just everyone everywhere...I was getting texts telling me about my Twitter and stuff.
“I just thank everyone on behalf of my family. I was telling my teammates a few minutes ago, this is uncharted territory for me personally,” he said after the game. “I never had to deal with a death in the family, let alone my brother. In my family, everyone’s so tight, just like a lot of other families. It’s part of life and due to my teammates and family and friends, I’ll be okay.”
Smith, a father figure to his younger siblings while his mother worked and went to school, honored his brother after scoring and plans to place the game ball in Tevin’s coffin. He’d texted his mom, Monica Jenkins, to tell her he was going to play.
“She was like, ‘Of course, he’d want you to play,’ ” Smith said.
And, somehow, he has to immediately prepare to play another football game even as he buries his brother. The Ravens host the Cleveland Browns on Thursday night.
“A pretty special guy,” Ravens Coach John Harbaugh said.