Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith opened up about his release from the Carolina Panthers on Charlotte radio station WFNZ on Oct. 1. Smith said, "It was personal" and felt he "was stabbed in the back."
Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith has opened up about his release from the Carolina Panthers.
Smith aired his sentiments in an exclusive interview with Charlotte radio station WFNZ on Oct. 1, per The Baltimore Sun's Jon Meoli:
"Steve Smith is done dismantling his former team, the Carolina Panthers, on the field. Now he's taking apart the storyline he says they're trying to propagate about his exit.
"Days after he scored a pair of touchdowns against his former team, the Ravens wide receiver called into a Charlotte, N.C. radio station, WFNZ, Wednesday to discuss his new circumstances and his feelings about the end of his 12-year career in Carolina.
"He outlined the step-by-step process of how he was released, and refuted an NFL Network report that he was released not because of an on-field decline, but because he was divisive in the locker room and refused a pay cut.
"Smith said in the interview that Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman told him 'basically that I'm a shadow of the player I used to be -- I can't run and jump like I used to, I'm jealous of Cam (Newton).'
"He said he that he was told they would trade him, and if a trade couldn't be consummataed, they would release him. When he was released, Smith said he heard it on the radio.
"'He doesn't even have the cajones to tell it to my face,' Smith said. 'Everybody else says 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.'
"He took exception with the idea that he wanted to be released or was difficult to deal with.
"'To build a case and start to leak stories that are inaccurate or paint a picture that I forced something, I think that's just unfair,' Smith said. 'And I think that's basically trying to justify why I'm not here and trying to say that because the way I played, too many people are speaking about.'
"Smith also took execption with coach Ron Rivera, who he said ''wasn't a sore loser' and sought him out after the game.
"'Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back,' Smith said. 'Coach Rivera...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 say, 'Man, this is what's going down.' He says he's a player's coach. He never came in and said, 'Hey Smitty, this is what's going on man, just wanted to give a heads up, we're moving on.' He hid in his office. Never spoke to me.
"'And then you come at the end of the game, and I played decent, and then you come and shake my hand and tell me, 'Congratulations. I hope the family is well, good luck.' We're supposed to be boys and you respected me, you would have did it from the jump. You don't do it at the end, and then you tell the media a lie so you can look a certain way.'"
In the WFNZ interview, Smith felt he "did something that got under (Gettleman's) skin," notes ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter David Newton:
"Wide receiver Steve Smith blasted Carolina general manager David Gettleman during a radio interview Wednesday, criticizing the manner in which he was released by the Panthers earlier this year.
"'Yes, it was personal with me and Dave Gettleman,' Smith said Wednesday on Charlotte radio station WFNZ. 'Obviously, I did something that got under his skin.'
"Smith, now a member of the Baltimore Ravens, caught seven passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns in Sunday's 38-10 victory over his former team.
"Smith had called into the station Wednesday to refute an NFL Network report aired last week saying he had refused a pay cut and instead asked for a release from the Panthers. 'You wake up in the morning after a good win, and you just read reports about (how) you demand this and demand that,' Smith said. 'Man, I just find it interesting.'
"Before being released, Smith said Gettleman told him he was a shell of the player he once was, a distraction to the team and jealous of quarterback Cam Newton.
"'I say, 'Well, is this about a pay cut?' Smith said of a conversation with Gettleman. 'He laughs and says, 'No, this is not about a pay cut, but thanks for asking.' And then says, 'We're going to trade you.'
"'...I pick myself up, walk out, shower and I call my wife and say, 'We're done here. I will be either traded or released.' I knew from the jump I was going to be released or traded.'
"On the morning that he was released, Smith said his agent, Derrick Fox, had scheduled a 9 a.m. appointment to talk to Gettleman about the receiver's future."
The 35-year-old Smith has caught for 12,626 yards and 70 touchdowns on 861 receptions in 186 career regular-season games with the Panthers and Ravens through Oct. 1, per ESPN stats.
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