Steve Smith: Saying 'Goodbye' To One of the NFL's, Panthers' Best
Steve Smith may be retiring as a member of the Baltimore Ravens, but his service with the Carolina Panthers speaks to his great career.
Week 17 brings to end the 2016 NFL regular season. For the Carolina Panthers, it’s the end of an upsetting year in which the team fell short of expectations created after a great 2015 season. While fans watch the last game of the year against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, though, Panthers fans will see the end of a career that’s important to the franchise.
Steve Smith is retiring from the NFL after 16 seasons. Even though he’s wearing a Baltimore Ravens jersey, Smith will long be remembered as one of the best players to ever suit up for the Panthers.
Smith joined the Panthers in 2001 and grew to become a fan favorite for the organization. Even though the media guide has him listed at 5-9, he played like he was the biggest man on the field, demanding attention every time he lined up. His performance earned him five Pro Bowl appearances and a career that some will consider Hall of Fame worthy.
With one game remaining he’s brought it 1,028 receptions for 14,697 yards and 81 touchdowns. Those marks place him in the 12, seventh, and 25th, respectively, all time. At 37 years old, he’s one of only 11 players to record 1,000 catches and 14,000 yards receiving.
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Carolina Panthers players and leadership recognize Smith as one of the greatest players to be a part of the Charlotte-based organization, and they’ve expressed that throughout the week.
“He’s a dynamic, fiery player that plays every play the way it should be played. That’s probably the biggest thing about him that I remember, how hard he played the game, how much he wanted to win,” Panthers Coach Ron Rivera said as reported by Jamison Hensley of ESPN. “There’s still 11 percent. You never know. But he’s earned the right.”
“He’s as tough as they get,” Panthers quarterback, Cam Newton added.
Smith was a player that could create a massive impact on the game any time he touched the ball. That ability to explode at any given moment often carried over into the way he played, as his penchant for getting under his opponent’s skin, led to many rivalries against defensive backs and some of his own teammates.
Smith was reprimanded multiple times for altercations that involved other Panthers players, but that mentality translated to his overall fierceness on the field. Walking away for Smith is going to be difficult, but his own words point to an ability to move on.
“There will be mourning. There will be a lot of emotions,” Smith said. “Also, there are a lot of other things I can grasp on that you can’t take away. That I can hold on to. Whether you want to or not, you’re going to move on. That’s part of life.”
Even though the breakup between the Panthers and Steve Smith wasn’t the prettiest and fans hated seeing him leave, there should be a genuine appreciation for what Smith did for the organization. As he suits up for the final time, Panthers fans should join Ravens fans in giving him a proper send-off.