Steve Smith spoke to reporters on Thursday. The suspension is over and so is the silence.
“People already had their perception of me anyway, so I just kinda do my deal and still keep going on playing football, going to work and doing the stuff I need to do,” Smith told them.
“If I allow my past to just stay in the back of my head all the time, I’ll miss out on the future and the present things that are happening. There’s times I have done that and there’s times I did a good job of just kind of letting it go.”
“That’s where I’m at – just trying to let it go. Not to forget about it. And, yes, I’ve made the mistake twice. i don’t plan on trying to make it a third.”
Simply put – Steve Smith is back. It’s not necessarily that simple, though.
No one can ignore that he’s been away and why. The team has a game to play this Sunday. Can they play that game in a vacuum? If so, they can avoid the questions that will linger in the minds of reporters and some fans about the team and how they’re handling this situation.
Distraction? Maybe and maybe not. But reality cannot be denied.
Ken Lucas said Thursday, “Now we have a bond as a team I don’t think anyone can break. We really have a lot of confidence going into Minnesota this week.”
Confidence will be abundant since the 45 guys who were active against the Chargers and Bears were able to win without Smith. That’s unmistakable. Now, will the glare of the bright lights of reporters be too blinding? Will all of this sudden scrutiny be too much for this team to handle?
There is a game to be played on Sunday. Whether or not it’s watched with a critical eye by every observer isn’t up to the players. How much of a distraction those hundreds of eyes will be is up to the players.
The perception of Steve Smith might change among fans and the media. Let’s hope the perception of the Carolina Panthers doesn’t change negatively now that he’s back.