Baltimore Ravens’ WR Steve Smith on release from Panthers: ‘I was stabbed in the back’

Former Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith didn’t have many inflammatory things to say in the days leading up to the Baltimore Ravens’ 38-10 win against the Panthers or immediately after.

But Wednesday, he unloaded on his former employer.

In an interview with Charlotte radio station WFNZ, Smith refuted an NFL Network report that he pushed Carolina’s hand in trading or releasing him, accused Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman of being unavailable in the time between the combine and his release and said Panthers coach Ron Rivera stayed in the background during that time.

“Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back,” Smith said. “Just like coach Rivera said he wasn’t a sore loser, but yet he never even spoke to me through the whole ordeal. Not one time. He didn’t look at me man-to-man and said this was going down. He said he’s a players’ coach but he never came in and said, ‘Hey Smitty, this is going on. Wanted to give you a heads up.’ He hid in his office.

“Then you come at the end of the game and I play decent and then you come and shake my hand and say, ‘Congratulations. I hope the family’s well. Good luck.’ But we were supposed to be boys and respected me. You would have done it from the jump. You don’t do it at the end. And then you tell the media. Why? So you can look a certain way.”

The Panthers released Smith after 13 years with the team, in part in an effort to hand the locker room over to younger players like quarterback Cam Newton.

Smith criticized Gettleman’s handling of his release. In February at the NFL scouting combine, Gettleman spoke of Smith’s career in the past tense.

In his meeting with Gettleman, Smith said the general manager told him he was a “shadow” of his former self and he couldn’t run and jump like he used to. Smith claimed Gettleman did not make himself available to him or his agent multiple times when he reached out.

Smith said he did not try to force a trade. He did not consider taking a paycut, and Smith indicated the Panthers didn’t ask him to before releasing him.

“He doesn’t even have the cojones to tell us to our face (about the release),” Smith said. “We have to hear it from someone else. Then he calls and says it wasn’t personal. If the first thing that comes out is ‘well it wasn’t personal,’ then guess what? It was personal.”

Smith then scoffed at the notion that he was a distraction, pointing to the recent domestic violence issues in the NFL and even former teammate Greg Hardy’s motorcycle wreck in 2011.

“I’ve always been a distraction? But I didn’t hit my wife. Yeah I hit some teammates six or seven years ago but I didn’t beat my wife. I didn’t get arrested for DUIs. I didn’t fall off no motorcycles. … All I did was charity work in Charlotte. I made mistakes. But building this big ol’ crutch about it like as if I pushed their hand?”

Smith caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns against the Panthers last week. Asked if he had anything to say to Gettleman now, Smith said he did not.

“He told me what he thought of me, and my play told him what I thought of him,” Smith said.

Source: MSN News.

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