Panthers receiver Steve Smith has not reacted favorably to our report from Thursday regarding the locker-room reaction to rookie quarterback Jimmy Clausen’s initial minicamp.
And that’s an understatement.
In response to a glowing Wednesday report from NFL Network’s Jason La Canfora with an assessment from an unnamed team official regarding Clausen’s performance, we heard from a source who shared a very different viewpoint, including an observation that Smith “basically thinks Jimmy is a punk.”
We thereafter reported that Smith texted Clausen to describe the report as “all BS,” and we pointed out that Smith would be appearing this morning on WFNZ in Charlotte to tell his side of the story.
I declined an opportunity to appear on air with Smith; though it would have made for compelling radio, I didn’t want to spend 12 minutes trying to get Smith to understand that my most important job is to protect my source, and that any details I would give him in response to his questions potentially could compromise my source.
And it’s good that I didn’t go on the air with Smith, because he apparently was poised to give me a verbal sucker punch. Though the audio is not yet on the WFNZ web site, the folks at SB Nation’s Cat Scratch Reader have prepared a partial transcript.
“[Florio] expected he could say it and get away with it, but [Smith] caught you homeboy,” Smith told the Mac Attack. “I don’t like liars. If he wants to
talk about it we can sit down like real men. Don’t worry, I won’t take a
swing at you. Mike is false and the source is bogus. I’m not afraid of
speaking my mind, and if I have something to say to someone I say it to
their face. . . .
“Florio is making this up,” Smith said. “I never talked to him personally, I don’t even
consider him to be part of the media. There’s a reason I have a few
more zeros at the end of my contract than he do; and now he says ‘we
stand by our story’ well, you know what, O.J. stood by the ‘if the glove
don’t fit’ look where he at.”
So considering Smith’s comments, I’m now fully convinced that he wouldn’t understand my explanation and that he won’t try to comprehend the importance of protecting my sources.
And given his anger level, I’m also even more convinced that I need to protect my source.