What the future holds for Steve Smith in the NFL remains up in the air, but not long ago the veteran wide receiver wasn’t sure if he was going to continue playing.
Smith said this morning at his youth football camp that he briefly considering retiring when his wife Angie became ill earlier this offseason.
Steve Reed of the Gaston Gazette reports that Smith feared his wife might have had Lupus.
“Last Friday we got great news about my wife that she didn’t have Lupus,” Smith said. “So that’s a big relief. It’s something we have been dealing with the last month-and-a-half. So when I said that football was on the back burner, to me it was one of the scariest things I’ve ever had to deal with as a husband and a father.
“Our life was in a holding pattern more than just football,” Smith said. “It was in a holding pattern for health. Retiring at that time was one of the things I was thinking about because I had to be home with my wife and make sure I didn’t let her down.”
Now, Smith can turn his focus to playing football. There has been speculation the Carolina Panthers will look to trade him when the NFL resumes business. He’s a veteran who could help a competing team and the Panthers are a long way off from competing. A good draft pick in 2012 could aid the rebuilding process. But Smith hasn’t ruled out the Panthers and coach Ron Rivera certainly hasn’t removed him from plans.
“I want to be competitive and have fun,” Smith said. “Winning isn’t everything but losing isn’t much fun. I feel like I didn’t play well statistically, so a lot of people are saying I’m a mid-age receiver whose skills are diminishing and losing a step. We’ll see. We’ll see how many 24-year-olds can cover a 32-year-old 4.3-running receiver who wasn’t supposed to be (in the league) anyway.”
Smith said it’s a family matter when it comes to whether or not he wants to be traded. But he does like what he’s seen from Cam Newton.
“He’s a phenomenal player,” Smith said. “You had to be living in a cave if you didn’t see him play college football last year. His athleticism speaks for itself. You can tell an athlete when he walks in the door. He doesn’t have to wear a sign or a jersey to tell he can play.”
It’s refreshing to hear an athlete put the sport and a career in perspective when discussing family life and health. It’s also great to learn his wife is doing well. Smith could be productive for several more seasons. Where? Hopefully we’ll find out soon.
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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune