SMITH HAS CAROLINA BLUE FLU?So the source of your rumor is none other than Sports Bloggers Live heartthrob Mike Florio, and as per usual, he doesn't divulge any of his "league insider" sources and doesn't back up anything he's saying. At least Florio admits that's his usual M.O. But that's not the reason Smith lashed out today...
As Panthers receiver Steve Smith continues to miss more and more time due an injury to one hamstring early in camp and the other one the week before the first game of the regular season, league insiders are beginning to wonder whether there's a connection between Smith's health and his contract.
Though we've yet to hear from anyone who has any specific information that Smith is embellishing his physical condition as a statement of dissatisfaction with his financial condition, folks are starting to think that maybe, just maybe, this is Smith's way of making it known that he wants more money...
The Panthers have the upper hand on this one, since Smith is under contract for the next four seasons. But if there's a connection between Smith's hamstring and his purse strings, the team needs to decide whether it's willing to adjust his contract to reflect his performance in 2005 -- or whether to risk having a malcontent in their midst for 2006.
According to Florio himself, this rumor -- which Florio repeated on September 16 after Smith didn't travel with the Panthers to Minneapolis -- grew legs when Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune repeated it as a throwaway line in this column published today about the Panthers:
Smith, who led the league in catches and receiving yardage in 2005, skipped the four preseason games with a strained left hamstring. Now he has missed the first two meaningful games with a strained right hamstring.Word got back to Smith that a sports writer from the city where one of the Panthers' division rivals plays suggested that his injury and his contract were related -- and just days before those two rivals squared off in that city. Yeah, I don't think Kaufman will be joining Smith at Ruth's Chris Steak House any time soon.
Rumors are filtering out of Charlotte that Smith is healthy enough to play but is disgruntled with his contract situation.
Even Florio himself was a little shocked when Kaufman decided to run with that rumor...
Man, is that sloppy. At least we explained when floating this nugget a week ago that league insiders are merely speculating about the possibility that Smith is jaking it, and we were careful to point out that there are no facts to support the suspicions. The Trib, in contrast, lobs a hand grenade onto the dinner table and then moves on, with no effort to explain where the rumors come from, or whether or not the rumors are valid.Gee, Mike, do you really have to ask? I mean, is it too much of a stretch to think that all those radio and podcast appearances you're doing these days might actually convince other media types that your little L.A. Confidential for football could be a credible source for information?
Based on past practices of the publication in question (which as a member of the "real" media should be held to a higher standard than crapholes like ours), we wouldn't be surprised to learn that the Trib is merely parroting our speculation from a week ago. If not, then Ira Kaufman (Editor's note: The prior version of this item had a very unfortunate typo), the writer of the piece, should tell us where these "rumors" are coming from.
We're living in a world where "citizen journalism" is a buzzword and separating "traditional media" from "new media" is harder than ever. Hell, AOL hired a bunch of bloggers to distinguish its NFL web site from everyone else's. Maybe we should all be a little more careful about what sort of speculation we put out there. You never know when or how Rollo Tomasi will rear his ugly head.