Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Steve Smith criticized the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday, saying his former team stabbed him in the back when it released him last offseason.
In an interview with WFNZ, Smith lashed out at Panthers coach Ron Rivera and general manager Dave Gettleman just days after Smith torched Carolina for 139 yards and two touchdowns on seven receptions.
Smith said that he felt disrespected by the way Rivera handled his release from the team. From the interview, which was transcribed by CBS Sports:
"Every time I keep reading stuff and reports come out, I just think I was stabbed in the back," Smith said. "Just like coach Rivera said he wasn't a sore loser, but yet he never even spoke to me through the whole ordeal. Not one time. He didn't look at me man-to-man and said this was going down. He said he's a players' coach but he never came in and said 'Hey Smitty, this is going on. Wanted to give you a heads up.' He hid in his office.
"Then you come at the end of the game and I play decent and then you come and shake my hand and say, 'Congratulations. I hope your family's well. Good luck.' But we were supposed to be boys and respected me. You would have done it from the jump. You don't do it at the end. And then you tell the media. Why? So you can look a certain way."
Smith also criticized the way Gettleman handled the situation, saying that he didn't have the "cojones" to tell Smith about his release to his face. He rejected the idea that he was a distraction to the team, even referencing Greg Hardy's domestic violence case to show that the Panthers are dealing with far bigger distractions.
"I've always been a distraction? But I didn't hit my wife. Yeah I hit some teammates six or seven years ago but I didn't beat my wife," Smith said. "I didn't get arrested for DUIs. I didn't fall off no motorcycles ... All I did was charity work in Charlotte. I made mistakes. But building this big ole' crutch about it like as if I pushed their hand?
After Sunday's game, Smith said that he ran around the Panthers like "schoolyard kids."
A five-time Pro Bowler, Smith has caught 25 passes for 429 yards and three touchdowns so far this season. Smith, 35, played 13 years with the Panthers before signing with Baltimore this offseason.
- Stanley Kay