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Otis Smith retires as a Patriot

FOXBORO, Mass. (May 18, 2005) -- Otis Smith, who played in two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots and was part of the team's first league championship, has retired as a member of the team.

The 13-year veteran cornerback signed a one-day contract with the Patriots earlier this week, and the team placed him on the reserve/retired list, allowing him to retire as a Patriot.

Smith, who found his way into the NFL as an undrafted free agent, retired with 29 career interceptions, seven touchdowns and 525 tackles in 180 career games.

"I wanted to retire as a Patriot because the greatest success of my career came in a Patriots uniform," Smith, 39, said in a statement released by the team. "The thing that I really liked about playing in New England is that the fans always appreciated my talents and what I brought to the table, win or lose. They appreciated the effort more than the actual winning itself."

Part of that popularity was owed to Smith's knack for making big plays in playoff games.

Smith returned an interception 47 yards for a touchdown in the 1996 AFC Championship Game, sending the Patriots to their second Super Bowl. In the 2001 season he led the Patriots with five interceptions, returning two for touchdowns, and picked off a Kurt Warner pass that set up a third-quarter scoring drive in New England's 20-17 upset of the St. Louis Rams in Super Bowl XXXVI.

"When I think about Otis Smith, a few things come to mind immediately: his incredible work ethic, the respect he earned as a result of the leadership he brought to the team and his production in some of our biggest games," coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. "Otis helped the Patriots win a championship and he will always be respected and appreciated for that as well as for his professional approach to the job."

Smith played for Belichick when he was the Patriots' defensive coordinator and followed him and coach Bill Parcells to the New York Jets in 1997.

Belichick brought Smith back to New England when he became head coach of the Patriots in 2000. He played 56 games in two stints for the Patriots, starting 48 at cornerback.

The Philadelphia Eagles signed Smith as an undrafted free agent from Missouri in 1990. He spent four seasons in Philadelphia and started the 1996 season with the Jets before joining the Patriots for their Super Bowl run. He played for the Jets from 1997 through 1999, then returned to New England in 2000.

Smith's best season was in 1997 with the Jets, when he made 70 tackles, intercepted six passes, scored three touchdowns and recovered two fumbles.

Smith played his final season in Detroit in 2003. He was with the Patriots before the 2004 season and was released shortly before training camp.

AP NEWS
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