For Cam Newton to develop into a star quarterback, Steve Smith had to go.
That’s basically the tone of the NFL Network’s “A Football Life” on Smith at premieres Friday at 9 p.m.
“We bumped heads for the obvious reason. He’s the first overall pick and he was a star where he was,” Smith told Blackandbluereview.com via NFL.com. “I was 31 years old. I had three kids. So we were two people in two different phases of their life.”
Newton was the first overall pick in the 2014 NFL draft and started right away. The Panthers went 6-10 in 2011, 7-9 in 2012 and then 12-4 in 2013. Smith caught 64 touchdown passes that year, including four of Newton’s 24 touchdown passes.
The 49ers eliminated the Panthers in the NFC divisional playoffs, and in March of 2014, the Panthers decided that Newton and Smith just didn’t mesh and released Smith. The receiver was 34 at the time and didn’t have the patience to wait for Newton to mature.
That maturation took place two years later when Newton earned MVP honors and led the Panthers to the Super Bowl. Smith, meanwhile, has been polishing his Hall of Fame resumé in Baltimore. He’s three catches away from 1,000 in his career.
It’s a move that seems to have worked out well for both parties.