Steve Smith has been an overachiever in his NFL career. After being selected in the 3rd round of the 2001 NFL Draft, Smith was considered too small to be a big-time receiver and many thought he could be a slot receiver/return man for his career. Well, someone forgot to tell Steve Smith what he was supposed to do in his career. Smith currently holds the records for most receiving yards, total touchdowns and receptions in Carolina Panthers history. He has also been a one-man wrecking crew for most of his career as a Panther. But unfortunately, the business of sports is about to claim him. Smith is set to make $7 million this season and because of that, the Panthers have decided to try to rid themselves of their most successful receiver. And what was even more shocking was the way Smith found out the news. Smith said that he found out via media and the team never gave him a heads up about them shopping him. It is expected that no one will trade for him and he will be released to sign with another team. As bad as this seems, such is life in the NFL. Unfortunately, some find out the hard way.
During this offseason, many fans have yelled and screamed about the money that players make. Some say certain players should take a pay cut while others are upset over teams paying players. But there is also another side to these stories. Many players do not get to go out on their own terms. They lay it all on the line each and every day for a career that does not last that long in the grand scheme of things. And for some, they end up with the results of Smith, who felt like this team was not forthright with him. This is a part of the game that many look over a lot. They see the big contracts and signing bonuses but they always miss the guys getting jettisoned after a team signed them to a big deal with a signing bonus. And it is because of these types of things, some may want to check the feelings they have for players being worth certain amounts at the door.
What fans fail to realize is that many of these players have trained their whole lives to get to the points they have gotten to. Sure, their jobs are not the same as the average man’s job, but you have to take into account the longevity of the career. Regular jobs for most last longer than NFL careers. It’s almost like they have a year-to-year contract in the NFL. They could be released or asked to take a paycut at any time due to a dip in production or the owners wanting to cut a player to get out from underneath a contract they signed them to. Imagine having your employer constantly contact you about restructuring a deal and taking less money to stay at a certain job. Does not sound that easy when someone is making $30,000 and is asked to do the same job for $24,000 does it? So imagine the situations these players have to go through living these situations year to year and add to the fact that some of them have to uproot their families during these contract situations too.
In the end, I don’t fault Steve Smith for feeling a certain kind of way about how the Panthers are treating him. I don’t fault these players for not taking paycuts, signing big deals or even retiring in the middle of some deals. Instead, I ask why the owners sign players to contracts they know they eventually are going to ask them to redo. After all, they knew what they were doing when they offered the contract. The owners are still going to make money either way, so they should be responsible for the decisions they made when they signed these players. Players, get all that you can when you can. Because you never know what can
happen, as shown by the situation Smith is in.
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