On Monday, Smith returned to practice while Lucas watched from the sidelines with his bruised eye and swollen nose.
Lucas says that he should be returning to the field within 2 to 3 weeks but has to have surgery and will await his doctor’s evaluation. That’s a long time to be without one of your starting cornerbacks because he was punched by a teammate.
Meanwhile, Steve Smith has some healing to do of his own. He says that he has to rebuild some burned bridges, to repair relationships. He even has some internal healing to do since he has yet to forgive himself for what he did.
For him, let’s hope that he finds something within himself that he hasn’t found before. He could become a better teammate but it’s certain that his reputation is damaged.
As for Lucas, he is prepared to move forward. He wants this whole ugly incident put behind him. He’s handling this as a Christian and forgiving Smith for his actions. Yet he feels that they still have to work through some things as men.
Others on the team including Chris Harris see this as a bump in the road. “We accepted it and we’re moving on,” Harris said. “We’re not looking in the past. We have our eyes looking forward. It’s like a DB (defensive back). If a bad play happens you can’t keep focusing on it or it will hurt you down the road. That was a speed bump in training camp. But the car is in drive. We’re not going backwards.”
So, can the team become closer as Lucas suggested Monday? Can the team find some kind of unity in all of this? Either way, moving forward is the right direction. Looking back will only divide them. Let’s hope it’s the former rather than the latter.
Both men talked to the media. Below are the full transcripts of what they had to say.
First of all, I’d really like to apologize to the orginization, to the coaches, to my teammates, to my family. I have a big responsibility to a lot of people and I know I disappointed a lot of people, but I will not allow this moment in the book of life to define me, despite what people may write or say.
“I made a bad decision. I accept my responsibilities and my actions. I will take this opportunity moving forward to try to do the best I can to move forward past it and let this not define me and not get down on myself to the point that I’m not able to help my teammates out and help this organization win a championship.
“His issue that happened is going to be an opportunity for the Carolina Panthers and myself as an individual to show our true colors and be able to show the impact we can have and not have this moment leave the legacy of who I am to my children, who I am to my teammates, who I am as a man.
“I will not put myself in position where I have to defend myself or state my side of the story. There’s only one side, which is a lack of judgment on my part. … I have no excuse. All I have is the opportunity to gain the respect of my fans, gain the respect of my family, gain the respect of my co-workers and the orgainzation, and also the peers I play against as well.
“I’m going to take this opportunity to let God break me, humble me, and continually let me move forward in being the person I can truly be — and that’s a God-fearing man, no matter what people may think or what they may say.
“It’s an opportunity for me to stand tall and take my punishment, but take it with God on my side and not me standing up trying to be something that I’,m not. I’m a fallen man. I’m a man who made a mistake.
“I intend to mend the bridges I have burned and help rebuild a bridge if I need to all by myself, but not do it in a spiteful way. But to do it witih the labor and the sound mind that God gives me, which is to do what I’m supposed to do.
“I’m not going to get into who’s right, who’s wrong. I’m completely wrong. (It was) an asinine decision. I’m going to move forward, and move forward better than I probably have had to.
“This is the first time in my life that I really haven’t forgiven myself. That’s what’s I’m going to work on.”
Q: How are you?
A: “I feel pretty good today. It’s just good to be back out here with my teammates. I’m just trying to get prepared for this season coming up. Everybody is positive right now and that’s a good thing.”
Q: When will you be able to return to practice?
A: “Probably in two or three weeks, depending on the surgery. We’re still waiting on the doctors to tell us the timetable on when I’ll have the procedure done.”
Q: What do you think about what happened:
“I feel like what happened was a blessing in disguise. It’s something that has brought this team closer together. You all may say I’m crazy for saying that. But I really think it’s bigger than me and Steve.
“Me and Steve have talked, man to man and one on one. We still have some more talking to do as far as the descrepencies of what we feel like are the issues between us. But we’re going to handle it as men.
“As far as this incident holding the team back, I don’t think it’s going to do so. I think it’s only going to make us better and bring us closer as a team (as we) work toward the ultimate goal of winning this tropy this year.
Q: Tell us about your conversation with him.
A: “That’s between me and Steve. There are a lot of things that have been brewing for four years now. I can’t possibly tell you what the issues are in this one conversation (about) what has happened in four years.
“Sometimes when emotions get involved, you do stupid things, and unfortunately that’s what humans do.
“For me, to be a Christian, I have a forgiving heart and I’m willing to move forward to help this team win this year.”
Q: Has he apologized?
A: “Oh absolutely. I think that was a big step for this team to be able to accomplish the goals we want to accomplish. I felt like if I didn’t forgive him, it would divide this team up and we could pretty much throw this season away. I’m a competitor and I hate losing. I felt like I had to do that in order to give this team an opportunity to perform at a high level and perform as a team this year.
“I have to admit it’s tough as a human. But it’s bigger than me and Steve, like I said. Where I get the courage and the grace to do so, I know it doesn’t come from me. It comes from God. So I just give all the glory to God for how I’m handling the situation right now.
Q: Could you talk about your teammates greeting you Saturday at the stadium and what that meant to you?
A: “When I came over to the stadium, I wasn’t coming over there to get a warm welcome. I was just coming over there to be a part of the team and not separate myself from the team. But, lo and behold, it was very overwhelming for how they responded to me. It felt pretty good.
“Sometimes you can view things as a gift or a curse. I look at this as a gift. We have the team, what it takes to win the Super Bowl this year. This is something I only thing will bring us closer.
“For those guys to come and hug me and say, `Man, we’re glad to see you over here,’ that felt so good to me. Sometimes it takes adversity to really know how much you’re appreciated or how much people really care about you.
“If I could take it back, I wouldn’t. It’s a learning process. Trials and tribulations only make you stronger as a man, for me and Steve. I’m sure he regrets the actions he took, but I would be less of a man if I didn’t forgive him. I go to Bible study, just like he does, every week. For me not to be able to forgive him, then I’d just be wasting my time going to Bible study. I just think it’s bigger than us.
“I have forgiven him. I have moved forward. I have shook his hand and looked him eye-to-eye today. We have discussed some things. We still have some more discussions, some more things to talk about as far as what can we do to go out there and co-exist on the same field, the same team and be productive and help this team win this year.
“Only two men can do that, and think we have what it takes for us to do so.”
Q: Why do you think this has been brewing between the two of you for four years?
A: “Because he’s an ultra-competitor and I’m a ultra-competitor, and we both hate losing. He expects to catch every ball and I expect to defend every ball. When you have those two types of individuals, then something has to give. Sometimes when it’s 100 degrees out there, you’re sweaty, you’re tired, you’re frustrated, sometimes emotions get involved.
“If he could do it, and if he’d had a calmer head, I’m sure he would have made better decisions. I don’t fault him for that.
“There are times when maybe I want to hit somebody, but I control myself. I tell some of my other teammates, `You have to keep your composure.’ Typically, people do crazy things they regret when they’re emotional, and I think he just got too emotional at the time, and that’s it.”