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Mizzou Links: Justin Smith was an all-time great in both Columbia and San Francisco

Justin Smith first made a name for himself as an out-of-nowhere dynamo in fall camp at Missouri in August 1998. Nearly 17 years later, the former All-American, top-5 draft choice, and all-NFL superstar finally retires.

David Welker/Getty Images

Mizzou Tigers pennant What's On

Justin Smith fan tributes, naturally.

It's an odd feeling watching another fan base mourns the retirement of a guy you consider 'yours' (for lack of a better term), isn't it? Justin Smith isn't "Cowboy" ... he's Godzilla! Smitty! He's ... a bunch of nicknames that only existed in one state 15 years ago. Okay, fine, he's "cowboy" too.

The Trib (Behind the Stripes): Former Missouri great Justin Smith retires from the NFL
Post-Dispatch: Justin Smith retires from NFL: "It was a good ride."

"It's a young man's game," Smith said. "You've got to be full of piss and vinegar when you step on the field. As you get older it's harder to get that same intensity going week in, week out. It's time to go."

Smith said he would like to work in football in some capacity but said he definitely won't join the media. He joked that he might buy the 49ers if CEO Jed York gives him a good price.

"I'm sure I’ll be doing something football related down the road," he said. "I’ll just stick with what I know and stay around the game as much as I can. I don’t know if that’s coaching or whatever."

Niners Nation: Justin Smith retirement: 49ers defensive tackle to call it a career
Niners Nation: Justin Smith explains the injury issues behind his retirement decision

Seventeen years ago, when fall camp was beginning in 1998, we heard stories. The star of the previous signing class was Chillicothe offensive lineman Justin Bland, who chose Mizzou over Nebraska and all the usual suspects used to invading Missouri for talent. Bland was enormous and talented, and we assumed he was going to be the anchor for future Larry Smith lines. (Technically, he was, even if the lines weren't as good as we assumed they would be.) We wondered if he was going to find a place in the starting lineup as a freshman.

When fall camp began, however, the stories we were hearing revolved around Bland as the victim. He was getting destroyed repeatedly by a true freshman defensive end with a generic name. The rumor was that the experience was making him question whether he really wanted to continue playing football. Turns out, the Jefferson City tight end Mizzou signed in the 1998 signing class was actually much better as a defensive end. His name was Justin Smith, and he would be playing a major role as a true freshman on a pretty experienced defense. A child born on the first day we heard about him that August is able to drive and is probably finishing up his or her sophomore or junior year in high school. Justin Smith's longevity at such a ridiculously physical position is mind-blowing.

Mr. Smith had a hell of a career before finally announcing his long-awaited retirement yesterday: 14 seasons (with just two teams), 87 sacks, 746.5 tackles, five first- or second-team All-NFL seasons, and some pretty incredible similarity scores. With production and longevity, he compares favorably to Too Tall Jones, Buck Buchanan, Jack Youngblood, Neil Smith, Deacon Jones, Joe Greene, Howie Long, Jim Marshall ... damn. And perhaps most impressively, he missed three games. Three! In 14 years! Enjoy retirement, Godzilla. You earned it.

Mizzou Tigers pennant Time to win some games, Fightin' Jamiesons

MUTIGERS.COM: No. 7 Mizzou Opens SEC Tournament With No. 10 South Carolina Tuesday
Post-Dispatch: Mizzou baseball needs to make noise at SEC tourney
The Trib: Missouri set to open SEC Tournament play

MUTIGERS.COM: Williams, Houck, Harris Earn SEC Honors

Mizzou Tigers pennant #stubble

The Trib: Baxter delivers for MU softball team throughout regional

She admitted that when she transferred to MU, she didn’t expect she’d be called upon in a high-stakes postseason game.

"I never did, to be honest," said Baxter, a native of Norborne, 100 miles northwest of Columbia.

However, with MU’s No. 2 pitcher Paige Lowary battling illness and unable to pitch the first two days of the regional, Baxter took on a greater role this weekend.

She pitched 62/3 innings during the regional and didn’t allow an earned run.

Future #Stubble
MUTIGERS.COM: Mizzou Softball Adds St. Louis Speedster to 2015 Recruiting Class

Mizzou Tigers pennant Yeah, that sounds about right

And Nickelback is on the more intelligent end of the scale!

Consequence of Sound: The lyrics of recent No. 1 singles average at a third grade reading level