Steve Smith – Former Carolina Panthers WR
When Steve Smith arrived at the Carolina Panthers as an undersized wide receiver with serious concerns about turning his college production into a productive pro career, fans were rightfully airing on the side of caution about what he might bring to the table.
Smith was extremely motivated to make his presence felt. He quickly become a core special teams presence and it wasn’t much longer before the wideout was the team’s best-receiving option despite a serious injury restricting him to just one game in 2004.
It was a testament to Smith’s resolve for him to come back in an emphatic fashion during the 2005 season when he won the famous Triple Crown after leading the league in receiving yards, receptions, and receiving touchdowns.
The former Utah star finished his career in Carolina with 836 receptions for 12,197 receiving yards and 67 touchdowns. But it wasn’t just Smith’s production that made him an icon.
His trash-talking on the field, ability to inspire others around him and connection to the fanbase still hold cult status.
Smith’s time with the Panthers ended on a sour note when he joined the Baltimore Ravens. But he still remains deeply connected to the franchise and although a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Fame berth didn’t arrive, it won’t be much longer before he ends up in Canton.