Here's the link to the full story, written by the fine reporter Eric Edholm, who is a friend of mine and has also gotten close to Smith over the years -- the two of them have at times worked on a not-yet-published biography of Smith.
Here are a few excerpts from the PFW story I found particularly interesting as Smith danced around whether he wanted to be a Panther next season or not (he still has two years and close to $15 million remaining on his contract):
-- On the trade "demand": "First of all, have I demanded a trade? I have not demanded a trade. What I have asked for is to be in a competitive situation. I sat down with Marty a lot of times prior to the lockout. I am respected as a veteran amongst the players as well as the front office. So there has been dialogue (about his future in Carolina) prior to the lockout."
-- On his house being on the market and what that means: "I think it's important that people realize I am not packing my bags. As far as why my house is for sale, we built this huge house and we just don't have any business living in it. It seemed like a great idea, and then we moved into this big house.
"We started cringing at all that space we had. For me, it was a little bit vain that I have this big house with this big yard. People saw my house was on sale and said it was me sending a message. Really the message I sent was to my kids: Dad made a mistake. This isn't how we are supposed to live. This isn't what I should be projecting. If we don't do this now, what incentive do I give my kids to reach for? You make a lot of money and then you go blow it? I don't want to be a statistic. I want to be a good steward."
-- On if he expects to be traded (San Diego and Oakland have both been mentioned as possible destinations): "Do I expect to be traded? Really ... to be honest, I am not sure what to expect. That's the truth. Could I see a situation where I stay (in Carolina)? In my mind, I have played out every scenario: I could be moved, I could be cut, I could stay or I could be locked out. Honestly, my family and I are prepared for whatever steps are presented in front of us."
-- On what he wants in 2011 wherever he plays: "The thing that is important to me is that wherever I am (next season), I don't want to go through the mental grind that I have experienced the last two years professionally," he said. "In the last two years, my actions a lot of times have given people the impression that I am disgruntled. That is the emotion that sometimes gives people the opinion that I am volatile.
"What I have been through, really the last two and even three years, I started to doubt my ability. I have been insecure about playing. At times I often have lined up on Sundays — before and during games — wondering if I would be lucky enough to catch more than one pass."
Smith's numbers last season were the worst he has had in a full season since his rookie year (46 catches for 554 yards and only two TDs). PFW reports Smith also played through a quad pull, a left leg injury and a rolled ankle for much of the 2010season.
"Did I lose a step?" Smith asked in the interview. "Anyone would lose a step when you're playing on one leg. I just tried to play through it, and ultimately I looked slow. Instead of 31 (years old), I looked 41. Instead of coming out and gathering myself and taking a backseat, I tried to play through it — and it backfired."
Smith also said the changes the Panthers have made in the offseason were "foundational" and that he "wasn't upset" about them.
So where does all that leave us?
Not much farther down the road, I guess, but at least with a better sense of what Smith is thinking. And, still, with no idea really whether he has played his last game for the Panthers or not.
6 months ago