Carolina Panthers: Steve Smith sends message to fans, David Tepper

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(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Steve Smith
(Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Steve Smith /
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Former Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith sends rousing message to fans and owner David Tepper.

Steve Smith is arguably the greatest Carolina Panthers player in franchise history. Loved by fans during his 13-years with the team, Smith relished the underdog role while setting record after record as a receiver and return specialist.

However, the Panthers surprisingly released Smith prior to the 2014 season as then general manager Dave Gettleman was making moves he believed were in the best long-term interest of the team. Smith would be 35 entering the next year and an aging veteran didn’t fit into Gettleman’s plan leading to a far from amicable separation.

Promising “blood and guts everywhere” should his new team meet Carolina the following season, Smith (figuratively) made good on his sentiment. Tallying two touchdowns with 139 yards on just seven receptions, Smith and the Baltimore Ravens torched the Panthers 38-10. It was his second most productive game in three years with the Ravens until retirement.

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Since hanging it up, Smith has served as an entertaining analyst on television as an opinionated observer. Recently appearing on NFL Gameday, the backdrop of the set included his jersey and helmet from Baltimore but Smith abruptly got up and traded the helmet out for a Panthers one.

“You know what NFL Network, let’s go ahead and switch that,” Smith said as his co-hosts cheered. Smith then had a statement for second-year owner David Tepper, saying he would “come on home” if the franchise elected to retire his No. 89 jersey.

The move is sure to delight Panthers fans and feelings between the two parties seem to be rapidly improving. Tepper did induct Smith and three others (Jordan Gross, Jake Delhomme and Wesley Walls) into the Panthers Hall of Honor this past season – a ceremony Smith graciously attended.

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Although to date, only one number (51 – Sam Mills) has ever been officially retired in franchise history.

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