Cutting Steve Smith, the greatest Panther, is clearly unpopular with Panther fans. Fans, myself included, have protested the idea from the beginning. Local sports radio host, Jim Celania even threatened to quit his job when this story first started to circulate.
the day 89 story hit I said on the show no chance in hell they cut him . if they outright cut him I will quit my job that moment.
— Jim Celania (@JimCelania) February 27, 2014
I’ve wished this story away from the beginning. In the face of cautionary voices, intimate with the organization, I derided this story as sensationalism. Here it is though. I was in denial. I wasn’t alone though.
If the @Panthers cut Steve Smith you're cutting the heart and soul of the team. I don't wanna watch a Panthers team without 89
— Cody. Ⓜ (@The_SpacePope) March 11, 2014
. @Cat_Chronicles Here is an idea: Fire Gettleman & keep Steve Smith! #89 is the heart & soul of the team & things will NEVER be the same!!
— Scandallova (@Ejack72) March 12, 2014
if Dave Gettleman knows what's good for him.. he'll stay inside or up in a press box till week 12..
— Julius (@jr_Stitch) March 13, 2014
Shouts from the fields were ignored in the end. The king's manager showed his real power by, not only cutting Smith in the face of mass upheaval, but cunningly demonizing the people's hero in the process. Strangely it emerged that Smith was not cut for financial reasons, but because he was a team disruption and an obstacle moving forward. The emotional leader and guy who everyone loved (until today when his detractors now courageously began to speak up) was a divisive force who was preventing the new stars from taking leadership roles.
Even if this was a well intended move that was just botched from a public relations standpoint, Gettelman isn’t dumb. He may have stood firm against threats of revolt today, but he is too smart, too calculating, to not understand the importance of public sentiment. True tyrants understand the power of the people's support. Gettleman will surely attempt to conjure more Gettlemagic to quell the masses. He will work to win their devotion back.
Whatever it takes! Gettleman has shown the masses there is no sacred ground in Carolina that will prevent his moving the Panthers towards consistent, long-term success. He has repeatedly stated his singular goal—establishing a winning culture. Right now Panther fans are having trouble seeing the vision though. His cool certainty wants to make us believe there is a master plan, but the vision remains unclear.
Gettleman will need to be deliberate and bold in the coming months. Here’s what I think it will take for Gettleman to repair this public relations debacle.
- Sign Greg Hardy to a long-term deal. (establish the vision offensively)
- Sign Cam Newton to a long-term deal. (establish the vision defensivel)
- Sign Hakeem Nicks to 1 yr deal. (short term damage control)
- Draft a franchise receiver in the 1st round. (sign vision to come)