Rarely do I take NFL trades personally. But upon hearing trade rumors about Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Steve Smith, it felt up close and personal. And with good reason, Smith had been a Panther since he was drafted in the third round in 2001. The wide receiver and organization were synonymous for 13 seasons.
Smith was the face of the Panthers’ organization. He was a proclaimed leader, on and off the field. He was also a vociferous champion who never failed to ignite passion and fortitude into his team and invoke fear in his opponents … with his ability to not mince words.
And although the latter statement has been repeatedly touted as the reason for Smith’s release, I’m inclined to believe anything but that. I mean, Smith is notorious for deprecating other athletes—who could forget the one-liner “Ice up, son”…? It is something Smith has done for several years. So what’s the problem now?
Are Panthers’ fans supposed to believe Smith was more of a “distraction” this year than he was several seasons ago?
Panthers’ fans deserve honesty about Smith’s release, not whimsical nonsense. After all, the fans have been all the organization has had since its team’s inception in 1995.
But hey, I’m not going to wait on an answer, and neither will other Panthers’ fans. We’ll still attend games. However, you can best believe #89’s presence will be sorely missed.
The breakup between Smith and Panthers leaves me and thousands of Panthers’ fans feeling bittersweet. We’re sad he’s gone, but we’re happy he has a new home with the Baltimore Ravens. And although it will be hard seeing Smith in anything other than black and blue, the confident swagger he always exudes on the field will bring solace.
And rumor has it that there’s a matchup between Panthers and Ravens this season. Well…in the words of Smith, I advise Panthers to “ice up, son.”
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