As of Tuesday this week, the National Football League began its new league year and, with it, offseason free agency began. A flurry of moves have already happened and the free agent frenzy is only beginning.
An unfortunate side effect of free agency is seeing beloved players get cut—especially when it is unexpected and seemingly unwarranted.
As popular as the NFL is, its reach goes well beyond everyday people—fans and media alike. Many celebrities, including All-Star NBA athletes are included among NFL fans, and they can be impacted by free agent moves just as much as anyone else.
Thursday, the Carolina Panthers—who are based out of Charlotte, North Carolina—opted to cut Steve Smith, the team’s most popular wide receiver. Smith was drafted by the Panthers in 2001 and has spent his entire 13-year career with Carolina.
The move did not go over with Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry, who spent his adolescence in Charlotte, NC.
A little late on this but Sick my @Panthers decided to let Smitty go. Preciate all #89 did in panther blue. “Ice Up Son!”
— Stephen Curry (@StephenCurry30) March 13, 2014
Panthers GM Dave Gettleman gave plenty of lip service to his duty to improving the team’s roster, but did not give any direct reason for the decision to cut Smith. He did, however, have enough decorum to wish him well, saying, “Steve had a wonderful career with the Carolina Panthers. I truly wish him and his wife, Angie, all of God’s blessings.”
Since learning of his release, Smith has been vocal in expressing his dissatisfaction with the move.
I want to make sure that whatever team I go to, they’re going to get the best, in shape 35-year-old guy they can get. If that happens to run through Bank of America Stadium [the Carolina Panthers' home stadium], put your goggles on cause there’s going to be blood and guts everywhere.”
Those sentiments, as bitter as they may seem, are a stark contrast to how Smith feels about the team’s fans.
I will always be a Carolina panther No contract can ever change that CLT is my home and will always be my home… I love you #panthernation
— Steve Smith (@89SteveSmith) March 12, 2014
Like many other fans who have seen some of their favorite players get cut, Curry will have wait out the offseason to find out how the Panthers manage to replace Smith’s production at wide receiver.
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