Carolina's Steve Smith Explains His Jake Delhomme Pep Talk
This week, Smith called into the WFNZ radio show of former Panthers teammate Frank Garcia to clarify what happened when the receiver seemed to offer some misguided love to his mentally wounded quarterback. Smith said this week's trip to Atlanta to face the 1-0 Falcons seemed a good time to clear the air, prompting the call-in to the show:
"I called in because it just got me. Got under my skin a little bit," Smith said. "Got a little local buzz or national buzz over me being mic'd up last week and what I said to Jake. It is very interesting that some of the YouTubes and some of the people have taken it like (that)."
Well, it was a bit ambiguous. Here's the original dialogue from the man-to-man (albeit overheard by microphones) exchange between Smith and Delhomme on the Panthers' bench. as provided by sportsradiointerviews.com.
Delhomme: "I apologize, bro."
Smith: "Hey, I know you feel like crap. I mean, you're not a very handsome guy, anyway, so ... But, as the performer, the quarterback ... I never really liked you as a quarterback. But as a person, that's who I love. I love you as a person."
Delhomme: "I appreciate it. (Inaudible) I just didn't get enough on that damn ball. I knew where I was throwing it, I just threw it too high."
All week, Delhomme has been brutally dissected by NFL analysts and fans who wonder whether his Week 1 meltdown is a repeat of his 2008 playoff crash. Perhaps Smith felt like he was the first to pile on last Sunday, which inspired him to do some damage control on the radio.
Then again, Smith probably realized that the feast-or-famine Delhomme is his starting quarterback -- for now -- and anyone, especially an emotionally and physically battered Delhomme, might misinterpret a well-meaning wisecrack as a serious slam.
"Well first, some of the people saying that I don't have confidence in Jake, or how could a real teammate or the 'real leader' quote-unquote say that, and how immature I am. I stand by what I said in ... I said that completely in jest. I am sitting next to my starting quarterback, who has been pulled out the game. I am sitting next to the backup quarterback, whose knee is being iced, his ankle ... He is feeling bad, and I come over and sit in-between them and say what I said, which was, 'I don't believe you are a good quarterback. You don't look very good and I don't really care about the performer. I care about the person.'
"You know as well as I know in this game and our job and these people that live here as football players and entertainers, our life [is] our jersey and the name on the back of that jersey, if you're fortunate enough. If you are not fortunate enough, it will change. And when it changes, those friends come and go. So as a performer, I don't really care about Jake as a performer. When I look at Jake and what I respect Jake at, is as a man, and I think that is the most important thing that you can do is respect anybody [for] who they are and not what they do."
Smith said he isn't concerned about Delhomme's candid remarks this week that he may have lost a little confidence.
"I think when you have a guy that says that, I think that is good because a lot of us men we have pride ... 'Ah no, I am alright. Don't worry about me. Don't worry about me.' When you act like nothing is wrong, and there is something wrong, you really never really get over it. But when you come out and say it, I think you help yourself get over it, because you get it off of your chest. ...
"You have to. That is the only way you move forward and you got to be accountable to [yourself]."