Hell Hath No Fury Greater Than A Scorned Athlete: How Steve Smith Sr. Whipped The Panthers
It is often noted that hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.
Well, that phrase was coined centuries before the NFL began playing, so it very well may be time for a redaction. There may be no stronger force in this life — or any after — than a cut or traded player returning to face his former team.
History offers a variety of examples of supreme performance when the discarded man torches his old club.
Yesterday offered a prime example of the motivation athletes experience when the team who signed their checks and fed their families shows up on their new schedule — on the opponent side.
Steve Smith Sr., never one to back away from controversy, got to capitalize on the opportunity when his new team, Baltimore, hosted Carolina.
Smith played on Carolina’s team for 13 seasons before they cut him this past offseason because they believed his 35-year-old body wouldn’t be part of the team’s successful future. Smith contemplated retirement before the Ravens signed him to join their receiving corps.
He validated their faith with seven catches for 139 yards and two touchdowns, as the Ravens routed the Panthers 38-10 in Baltimore.
Blood And Guts, Delivered
Week four interconference matchups usually don’t generate national coverage, unless it’s a Super Bowl rematch. In this case, the talented but truculent Smith Sr. stirred the pot with his sideline comments, denouncing the notion that he can’t play, and promising “blood and guts” for the Carolina game.
His former teammates laughed and some wore goggles after practice to prepare for the contest. Smith arrived to M&T Bank Stadium wearing an “I Heart Haters” hat.
When the whistle blew, few on the Carolina defense were laughing. On their first play from scrimmage, Ravens QB Joe Flacco found Smith for a 17-yard completion on a nice quick pattern. Early in the second quarter, Flacco went for Owen Daniels down the sideline, but the ball deflected off of his hand.
Smith was running a parallel pattern and picked the deflection from midair and streaked into the end zone for an improbable 61-yard touchdown. Carolina answered the score with a touchdown from Kelvin Benjamin, the rookie man-child from Florida State with the athletic build to seemingly replace Smith.
The youth revival is ongoing in Carolina, as they defend the NFC South crown under number one overall pick Cam Newton. For a young team, older voices are still needed to guide the new stars, which is why the Panthers snatched Jason Avant, who was in free agency.
Benjamin has some work to do, as he committed two penalties in the Panthers’ first drive, which cost them a chance at a field goal. Baltimore retook the lead with Justin Forsett’s rushing touchdown and got it back after the defense forced a three-and-out for the Panthers.
Right after the two-minute warning, Flacco took a bobbled snap, but picked out Smith in the back of the end zone in single coverage. Despite the push-off by the Carolina defender, Smith hauled in the throw and established in-bounds possession for his second score of the day.
The replay assistant challenged the call and confirmed that it was an epic catch.
Smith Sr. is known for his receiving acumen (and for his ability to trash talk). Sunday, the jawing wasn’t as apparent as his catching skills. Could his old allegiances have spared his foes from his famous wrath? Or, did he decide to let his play do the talking?
After the game, he addressed his lack of showboating by saying,
…I just played, and at the end of the day, honestly, they didn’t deserve anything I had to say that would be derogatory, and I had no need to. They didn’t even deserve for me to spin the ball on them. I just caught it, and put it down and got on about my business.
It was all business, and that’s what it’s always going to be.
So, what does a future Hall-of-Famer do after torching his old team for two TDs while guiding his new team to 3-1? Smith planned to go home and enjoy himself,
…I was ready to play ball once I was out there. Now it’s on the ending.
Going to watch a few highlights, eat a little apple pie, move on.
I wonder if the Panthers’ front office ate some humble pie watching the game yesterday…
Top Photo Courtesy: Twitter