Could Steve Smith Sr. join Carolina Panthers coaching staff under Frank Reich?
By Dean Jones
Could former wide receiver and Carolina Panthers legend Steve Smith Sr. potentially join the team'c aoching staff under Frank Reich?
While all eyes were on quarterback Bryce Young during the opening day of the team's rookie minicamp, there was something else interesting happening. This was thanks in no small part to Carolina Panthers royalty in attendance.
A video of Steve Smith Sr. - arguably the greatest Panthers player in franchise history - coaching up second-round selection Jonathan Mingo on the sidelines went viral. The future Pro Football Hall of Famer was seen giving some hand placement pointers to the Ole Miss product, which is sure to benefit the player greatly during his transition from college to the pros.
Smith banged the drum hard for Mingo throughout his pre-draft analysis. He also received a text from team owner David Tepper during the selection process, who was seeking counsel before Carolina went on the clock at No. 39 overall.
Could Steve Smith Sr. join Carolina Panthers staff?
Frank Reich was thrilled to have Smith out on the field via the team's website. The head coach also asked the fiery competitor to speak with rookie minicamp attendees after practice and hopes to see him a lot more around the facility despite other commitments.
"I love to see Steve out there. You can just feel his energy. (He) got involved in a little drill workout there. That was great. Had him say a few words to the guys afterwards. He just speaks, and it's like, 'OK, this guy's got some presence.' What he says is going to carry weight with those guys. And I liked what he said, pushing the guys. Like, 'Let's go. I mean, this is a great opportunity you have, but we've got to go harder. We've got to be on top of our game.' It's kind of cool that we get him here, and hope to see a lot of him out here."- Frank Reich via Panthers.com
Of course, there is one way Reich can guarantee Smith is assisting from a coaching capacity more frequently than just the odd visit. That is by offering him a permanent position on the staff.
To say this would be well received among fans is understating things significantly. Smith is beloved and held in the highest regard by everyone associated with the franchise, which would also command instant respect within the locker room in this scenario.
Carolina already has a decent wide receivers coach in Shawn Jefferson, who arrived earlier this offseason. Perhaps an offensive assistant/wide receivers consultant role could be offered to Smith, but whether he'd accept it or not is another matter.
It's been fantastic to see Smith's relationship with the Panthers mend in recent years. He's a close confidant of Tepper and the bridges that were burned before his departure to the Baltimore Ravens have now been repaired.
However, Smith has a great analyst gig with the NFL Network and a blossoming media empire he might not be willing to give up. There is a real passion to nurture the next generation, but time constraints might deem this a non-starter even if there was a formal offer made by Reich.
The former Indianapolis Colts head coach admitted recently that he'd sounded out Luke Kuechly about a potential coaching role down the line. Could the same happen with Smith? Only time will tell.
Smith would bring the energy and competitiveness the Panthers' running backs are currently getting from Duce Staley. And if the fire burns bright enough, then why not take the plunge and see if it works out?