Panthers make mistake with Steve Smith

Panther fans knew this day was coming, just not this soon and certainly not like this.

Last week, Carolina parted ways with Steve Smith, the receiver that was the face of the franchise and for years put the team on the map. There was backlash from the fan base which is to be expected- someone as fiery and talented as Smith was worshiped by Panther fans. The decision to release Smith will be hotly debated for years to come and with good reason.

There’s no question that Smith isn’t on the level he once was, but it’s hard to argue that he still can’t make an impact. Steve isn’t considered to be a number one receiver in the league anymore, but he was without a doubt the Panthers’ top receiver. Smith always garnered the other team’s best defensive back and the most double teams defensively- sounds like a number one receiver to me.

The best compliment you can give Steve is that he wasn’t just a great receiver, but a receiver who made others around him better. Smith has always been known as a fiery personality. That personality sometimes got him in trouble with coaches and teammates, but Steve played every game like it was his last. Few people wanted to win more than Steve Smith.

Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith scored a touchdown on this reception - his 800th career catch.

Steve Smith rewrote the offensive record books while a Panther.

I want to be clear. I don’t have an issue with the Panthers dropping Smith because he had been with the team for 13 years and wanted to retire a Panther. Dave Gettleman, the Panthers General Manager, knows the NFL is a business first, and you can’t let emotion get in the way of doing what’s best for the team. I respect him for that.

I do have a problem with the way Carolina has handled Smith’s departure. It was bad enough that Steve had to find out about the team possibly shopping him over social media instead of from Gettleman himself. To make matters worse, the team even removed his jersey from the team store while in the process of trying to trade him. When approached with this, the team tried to play it off and say it was just because Smith was in the process of changing his name to Steve Smith Sr. A fair response until Smith himself was asked about it by ESPN’s Josina Anderson saying “your guess is as good as mine” referring to the mysterious disappearance of his jersey.

At the end of the day, the Carolina Panthers made a decision about their future, one that doesn’t involve Steve Smith. The team was rumored to be worried about Smith taking too big of a vocal leadership role in the locker room and wanted to see Cam Newton and Luke Kuechly take over the team. Truth be told, Smith has earned his right to be vocal.

The 5-time Pro Bowler has stuck with the Panthers through thick and thin. Smith was there for the highs as he helped the team make its first Super Bowl appearance and two NFC Championship game appearances. But he’s also been there for the lows. The recent 2-14 season and having to contend with Jimmy Clausen, Matt Moore, and Brian St. Pierre at quarterback just to name a few.

Through all of this, Smith could have easily given up and demanded a trade like many players in the NFL do today. When Smith did speak up in the locker room, people listened. That terrified the Panthers front office. Despite all of the setbacks Steve experienced as a Panther he stuck it out with the team that took a chance on him back in 2001. Loyalty is a word you don’t hear much in the NFL but it definitely exists in Steve Smith’s vocabulary.

Steve Smith now moves on to the Baltimore Ravens, a team known for using veteran players effectively. The Ravens are slated to play the Panthers in Baltimore this upcoming season and if you don’t think Smith is counting down the days until he plays his old team, I have some beachfront property to sell you in Kansas.

  • Rick

    Who the heck will Cam Newton throw to. Even with salary cap considerations, I challenge anyone to come up with a reasonable explanation for this.

    Then today, Einstein Gettlemen signs the #3 receiver from the Steelers (close to the same age as Steve Smith) for 5 million. He still has to pay 3 million to Steve Smith.

    Gettlemen evidently can’t do the math. It would have cost them 7 mil to keep Smith this year and they’re paying 8 mil to him and the guy who they got to replace him (who is not half the player Smith was and will show he still is).

    Quite honestly I am sick of pro sports and the lack of loyalty from both management and players but this is simply bone headed even just doing the math.

    Bump Gettlemen, Rivera, Richardson and the horse they rode in on.

  • A new Ravens Fan

    I have a problem with the way this was handled. This was personal for Gettleman.Richardson should have stopped him. The only way I will ever go back to Bank of America Stadium is when the the Ravens come to town. Me and my friends will travel to Baltimore to support Steve Smith. There is charter bus talk about Baltimore home games and it seems there is a lot of fans that want to make that happen.

  • JM

    I live in Charlotte and loved watching the Panthers play, I loved watching Steve Smith get the ball. I know it sounds crazy but my attention is the Baltimore Ravens, they got a very good player now. Steve Smith is in my opinion and many others, a electrifying presence, TOUGH for his size and like Mr. Braswell said, a Loyal player. His personality was needed when the Panthers were losing because he lifted the players up. Now that they had a winning season, its almost like they forgot him. Well, I got a feeling that this year the Panthers won’t have much success. Go Ravens!!

  • Lynn Elizabeth Taylor

    Well said, Scott Braswell!!!! Steve Smith was my favorite Carolina Panther and I am SO disappointed to see him go. He will be a GREAT Baltimore Raven and I wish him all of the best!!
    LE Taylor

    • Rae

      It was absolutely disgraceful the way the team owner, Richardson, allowed Gettleman to handle the situation. Steve Smith deserved to be treated with dignity and respect – his loyalty to the team, no matter what the circumstances, was apparent to anyone to has followed the team all of these years. We will not continue to support them with the same excitement because Steve Smith was always a reason to watch every game. We cannot help but question what is truly going on when it seems that “management” is dismantling a team that could have gone to the Super Bowl this next season, and Steve Smith should have been there as a Panther. For his sake, we hope he will be there with the Ravens – and will catch the winning touchdown!