It was a less-than-impressive performance on an overcast afternoon, though the weather wasn’t the only gloomy thing on Sunday in Charlotte; the outlook for the Panthers going forward in 2012 took on the same dreary feeling.
A dreary feeling heightened by a report that came out Sunday from Tom Sorensen of the Charlotte Observer.
Sorensen spoke with Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith following the loss in the team locker-room.
When Sorensen asked Smith if he could envision himself walking away from the game, Smith replied, “You’d be surprised.”
Smith is the voice and face of a Panthers organization that has cherished his every contribution on game day. He just recently passed Keyshawn Johnson for 30th position on the NFL’s all-time receiving yards list, and is currently playing in his 12th season with the Panthers, the only NFL team he has ever played for.
Smith has endured horrible seasons and wonderful seasons with the Panthers. He plays hard every Sunday, making it known to the world the passion he has for the game of football. Smith has been a leader and a warrior on and off the field for both the Panthers and the city of Charlotte.
Now, in his 12th year in the league and a poor 1-4 start in the books, this bye week might be an eye-opener for Smith – eye-opening in the sense that retirement could be in the cards after the season.
When talking with Sorensen on Sunday, Smith also said, “I don’t feel like I have to be around the game.”
12 years is along time in professional football. For a player like Smith, who welcomes big hits, 12 years might mean time to hang it up. Not because Smith can’t play, though – he remains one of the most dangerous receivers in the game, and there is no doubt the Panthers could use his leadership for the remaining two years on his contract after this season ends.
Sorensen’s report did shed light on Smith’s state of mind though; or maybe, those were just words from a frustrated player who is tired of losing.
Robert Kester, Carolina Panthers Columnist. Contact @robertkester1.