For the last few years things have been shaky in Carolina and Steve Smith has made his frustration known multiple times. He has been in fights during training camp, he cleaned out his locker following this past season, a season in which the Panthers finished with the worst record in the NFL, and made it known that he wanted to be traded to a contender. That didn’t happen and Smith will be back with the Panthers for another year. With the shaky quarterback situation in Carolina it’s hard to imagine Smith re-emerging as one of the best receivers in the NFC. But behind the attitude, the trade demands, and loose cannon attitude at times lies a very talented receiver.
For a team that is loaded with youth at quarterback, Smith is somebody that the Panthers need to have on their roster and they need him to play well. Even though he hasn’t topped the 1,000 yard mark since 2009, Smith is still one of the best players on the roster and Carolina is very lucky that he backed off his trade demands and will be in Carolina as they try to rebuild the franchise once again. Steve Smith joined WFNZ in Charlotte with the Driveto talk about the new offense and direction of the franchise, how frustrating last season was, how his mindset has changed heading into this season, his relationship with Cam Newton, and what is the biggest misconception about him.
How excited he is about the new offense and direction of the team:
“I mean I’m excited. I keep saying I have to study. It’s a new offense. You get used to doing things a certain way and then all of the sudden things change. Okay, you’ve gotta study and I’m not lined up just here and it’s not called this anymore, it’s called something else. It’s a lot of new things added to it and that’s what happens when transition happens.”
How frustrating last season was:
“It was difficult at times. It was frustrating. Not just for myself but I think everyone. There’s a lot of guys that were frustrated and there was a lot of people who it was hard on. Look at the people in the front office having to sell PSL’s, having to sell marketing. It made it very difficult for them as well which puts stress and strain on their family and the financial situations also with all the financial issues going on in the world and we’re out there tricking off games and that really didn’t help. Then you have the fans spend their hard earn money to come out there and see just sloppy football. It was just like Sheppard’s Pie. Just a whole bunch of mess in there.”
What has changed with his attitude:
“Just really focusing in. At times you just get caught up in success. You want to be so successful and when you have that much drive to be successful you don’t take the time to stop, smell the roses, and look at the view. I think that’s one of the biggest things. I’ve had this goal to be a Hall-Of-Famer and I wanted to do this and I wanted to do that. A lot of times when you have such high aspirations you don’t take the time and appreciate just the small things. When that happens you have to get a perspective and refocus.It’s not even refocus like hey I don’t want to do those things but that’s not the biggest and most important thing. I’ve allowed football to be more important at times than even, I’m embarrassed to say, sometimes my family. That at times has in the past has not what I wanted to be and I don’t want that to speak to my family like that and it has at times. You just have to go back and say ‘hey what are you gonna be?’ What do you want to do? For me, I want to have fun, want to enjoy life because everybody can’t be like John Kasay and play until you’re forty-something years old. Even with him how he was released where it’s hard. Some of these guys have been doing it for such a long time since you’re a young kid, you get your dream and all the sudden it stops. If you don’t take the opportunity to enjoy it your year becomes a blur and you start losing focus on the most important things in your life.”
On his relationship with Cam Newton:
“One of the things I have formed a relationship with Cam (Newton). We’re clowns around each other always joking, but I actually have started to joke around and actually started to form a better relationship with Jimmy (Clausen) as well. It’s just really a looser atmosphere around me because of letting loose, being relaxed, and not focusing so much on a goal that I miss the adventure or miss the trip. Too worried about the end product and not paying attention to the things in the middle. It’s been cool just to hang out, run some routes, and keep it quiet and less out in the open and behind the scenes and I think that’s helped out a lot.”
What the biggest misconception is about him:
“Actually that I’m a thug or I’m unintelligent. Because I’ve allowed my emotions to be displayed more than my intelligence. I am kind of introverted a little bit or a lot and sometimes I just kinda, well if I’m upset I go well I don’t care people already think I’m this way so I’m gonna do it anyway. That’s one of the biggest things. I’ve stuck my foot in my mouth several times, well a dozen. That people see and get that perception and rightfully so. Whether it’s the Anthony Bright or Ken Lucas or those things where I’ve allowed my anger and all that stuff to boil over. That’s what people always go to. He does this so he’s this or that. Yeah I have tattoos. That’s me, that’s who I am, but I always kinda you take it or leave it.”