In case you haven’t realized, Steve Smith has some issues with the way his 13-year Carolina Panthers career came to an end. On Wednesday, Smith responded a recent report from NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport that indicated the Panthers decided to cut Smith because they were afraid he would be “divisive” in the locker room as they looked to go younger and cheaper at wide receiver.
Smith told WFNZ in Charlotte that reports like the one from Rapoport gave him even more motivation heading into last Sunday’s game against the Panthers.
“To build a case or leak stories that are inaccurate or that I forced something…” Smith said, via WFNZ’s Chris Kroeger. “That’s unfair. I never asked for a release. I wanted to play ball.”
Smith also said that Panthers head coach Ron Rivera never sat down with him before he was released and only texted the 35-year old after the fact to apologize for the way things ended.
“He didn’t come to me man-to-man, he said he’s a player’s coach,” Smith said. “He hid in his office.”
He said that the same was true of Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman. Smith said Gettleman told him he is a “shadow” of the player he used to be and that he was jealous of Cam Newton. When Smith asked him if the Panthers were looking for him to take a pay cut, he says Gettleman told him it was nothing about money but that the team was going to trade him. Smith claims he later found out he had been released by listening to the radio.
“(Gettleman) doesn’t even have the cojones to tell it to my face,” Smith said. “Everybody else says that it wasn’t personal, but if the first thing comes out of your mouth if it wasn’t personal, well guess what, it was personal.
“Now that I play well you’re going to try and say that I’m a distraction … I’ve always been a distraction, but I didn’t beat my wife. Yeah I hit some teammates six or seven years ago but I never beat my wife. I didn’t get arrested for DUIs. I didn’t fall off no motorcycles.”
We’re starting to get a better idea of where all the animosity comes from. Smith went off on the Panthers with a sideline tirade during a game earlier this year and then proceeded to catch two touchdowns against them last weekend. He then made these hilarious comments about his former team while cameras were rolling. Regardless of who is to blame, it’s obvious Smith and the Panthers had a bitter divorce.