S teve Smith may not play for Charlotte’s NFL team anymore, but the city is still very much a part of him. And Panthers’ fans sure aren’t going to stop thinking or talking about him anytime soon, either.
Carolina’s best-ever player held his annual youth football camp at Ardrey Kell High School the last couple days, and it’s clear the only thing that’s changed about Smith is his uniform.
When a reporter began a question saying, “It’s only natural to expect your relationship with the city might change,” Smith interrupted.
“See, that’s where you get it mixed up. It’s not like I’m going to skip town. I’m not here anymore, so I pack up my bags in the night and I move. This is my home, this is my residence, this is where I file my taxes,” Smith said. “Maybe it’s natural for you, but I’ve lived here now for 14 years. It’s not natural just to leave.”
Smith’s “special guest” at the camp was Luke Kuechly. The Panthers’ linebacker is considering holding his own camp one day, but he didn’t have to be there. Smith asked, and Kuechly went.
“He’s on a different team now. That doesn’t mean Steve and I don’t talk to each other. It’s obvious that we still have a relationship,” Kuechly said.
In Week 4, the two will be on opposite sides in Baltimore. Here the former teammates stood side-by-side, joking with each other.
“Steve’s been a guy I’ve watched since I was a little kid. That’s makes him sound old. I was 9-years-old when Steve was drafted,” the 23-year-old Kuechly revealed.
Smith, 35, replied, “I actually like hearing that. Maybe I’ll continue to play to where somebody, when I was drafted, they were in kindergarten.”
After meeting with the media, Smith and Kuechly went back to the campers.
The Ravens receiver bounced all over the field. He won a 40-yard-dash, played catch and signed loads of autographs. It was like he never left.
“I’ll continue to invest in the community, whether it be my camp or my foundation. It shouldn’t change because of where I play,” Smith said.