At what point does passion and the pursuit of athletic excellence become a problem for the rest of the world who follows certain athletes? When does that passion become a part of the team, and when teammates pick up on that passion, does it pay off for the team in the end?
As fans of pro sports teams, we usually get to see athletes at their best on the field or the court. This is the arena where our favorite players have the best opportunity to shine as they fight for victories for the home team.
Behind the scenes, it is usually the reporters who get to see the worst in athletes. Such was the case for Charlotte Observer reporter Scott Fowler who was blindsided by an outburst Sunday evening when he asked Carolina Panther star wideout Steve Smith the most simplest of questions.
Steve Smith has always been the most vocal of the Panthers the past decade. The 11-year vet has been praised and criticized for his antics and tirades, and even for the physical toughness he has displayed on the field, the locker rooms, the practice fields and the meeting rooms.
But when does it come a time to "man up" and police yourself with some dignity after a frustrating loss, such as the case with the team's 30-3 collapse at home to the Tennessee Titans after a bye week?
Scott Fowler is a reporter for the Charlotte Observer. He frequently does a piece he simply titles "Scott Says" for the Observer. In his piece he usually offers up opinion, sometimes controversial, about whatever topic he has pulled from his hat for the day.
On Sunday during a post game interview with Smith, Fowler simply asked "Steve, what happened at the end of the game?" This referred to the physical holding penalty on the final drive of the Titans game, in which Smith basically tackled Tennessee defensive back Alterraun Verner. The following is some of the quotes that came from Smith's mouth.
"You saw it. You're going to write about it. You write, Scott."
Smith added, "I don't really care, Scott. That's how I feel right now. I feel like crap. I'm not going to sit here and explain, I'm not going to apologize. This is me."
"If people don't like it, people are going to write what they want to write, but I live with it. I'll get over it. I'll move on. You can harp on it, you can talk about it, you can report it. You can Google it, blog it, however you want to do it. In a football game, emotions get high. I know I'm not the first one to ever get a penalty; won't be the last time the local thug gets a penalty. But at the end of the day, I was on a Super Bowl team, I'm going to play, I'm going to make mistakes, so write what you want. Don't really care, Scott."
The statement that bothers me the most is how Smith refers to himself as the "local thug." Smith has been a constant in the Charlotte community with outreach programs and charity events directed towards the young children in the greater Charlotte area.
He coaches his son's soccer team, and is a big supporter and partner of Athletes United for Youth, a charity organization that provides educational, programmatic and structured support to youth housed within under-served communities.
But for all the goods that Smith does behind the scene, in the field of play and anything related to the Carolina Panthers, he continues to display poor judgement and questionable behavior, which allows others to join in with the carrying out of the new nickname, the "local thug."
So the question remains, how much passion can one man instill into a team that clearly lacked it this past Sunday? We will see this Sunday at Ford Field if Smith's passion is contagious enough to make a difference for the rest of the Panthers.
Here is the link to the entire interview: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2011/11/13/2774407/smith-shows-frustrations-postgame.html