Former Saints LB writes beautiful tribute to Will Smith

The New Orleans Saints, along with football fans, players and coaches across the country, are mourning the loss of former defensive end Will Smith, who was shot and killed Saturday at the age of 34. Many of Smith's former teammates have shared touching remembrances of the Saints veteran and Super Bowl champion, and on Monday former Saints linebacker Scott Shanle wrote an emotional letter to his lost friend.

"Writing is supposed to be therapeutic. Finding out at midnight that a man who was like family was murdered will have you searching for any therapy imaginable. Today was a long day after a sleepless night of worry and sadness. To hear Will Smith was gunned down and [is] no longer with us is unimaginable. It shouldn't take a tragedy to make us wish we would have said certain things while we had the chance. Even though we texted pretty frequently my regret is not telling Will that I appreciated him and loved him. I tried to show it but never said it directly so here it goes...

Will I loved the person you were off the field in our talks and appreciated the selfless teammate you were on the field. Many people judge double-digit sacks as the measuring stick for defensive ends. What those people don't know is you put those numbers on the back burner and played the run just as well as the pass for the betterment of our defense. I promise you it didn't go unnoticed and I appreciate you for it."

Shanle came to New Orleans in 2006 after being traded by the Dallas Cowboys and played seven seasons for the Saints, winning Super Bowl XLVI along with Smith. Shanle became close friends with Smith during that time, and shared some of his fondest memories of his former teammate.

"Will as I reflect on our 7 years together only a handful of moments involve actually playing football.... I remember from the moment I got off after the trade from the Dallas Cowboys you welcomed me with open arms right there at the training camp in the locker room at Milsaps College. I noticed and I appreciated it. Our friendship would grow over the next seven years.

We lived in the same subdivision. We walked out kids around to the same neighbors on Halloween to trick or treat and followed each other to and from work almost daily. We shared an aisle in front of the plane on every road game. I loved our banter about college football traveling to the away games and our discussions about our own game on the way back home. I appreciated when you would grab me an extra Popeyes apple pie from the front of the plane. We would always laugh about how much we loved those apple pies! I t was funny but we looked out for one another and made sure nobody took them all before we got one for one another. "