The story of Panthers receiver Steve Smith breaking his arm while playing flag football represents a fairly major blip on the slow-period radar screen. But it could be merely the first development in a far more compelling story line.
Though initially reported by Adam Schefter of ESPN as an injury that occurred while playing flag football at Smith’s football camp, we’re told that Smith broke the arm not while participating in a youth football camp, but while participating in an adult flag football league on Sunday.
Agent Derrick Fox told me via phone today that he doesn’t know whether the injury happened at a youth football camp or during an adult flag football league.
“I don’t know that,” Fox said. Fox said it’s his understanding Smith broke the arm as he braced himself while falling to the ground.
Fox also mentioned that the presence of a plate that was inserted after Smith broke the arm late in the 2009 season possibly contributed to the new injury.
But here’s where it all gets very juicy. Paragraph 3 of the standard player contract prohibits any football moonlighting: “Without prior written consent of the Club, Player will not play football or engage in activities related to football otherwise than for Club or engage in any activity other than football which may involve a significant risk of personal injury.”
So did Smith obtain written consent from the team to play flag football? “I don’t necessarily think that anybody asked for permission,” Fox said.
In fairness to Fox, it sounds to us that, if this is how it happened, he was kept in the dark, too. And based on the details we’ve picked up regarding the injury — that it happened when Smith batted down a pass on defense and then hit his arm on another player — it looks like Smith may be trying to spin this one into something that happened at a football camp and not something that happened while playing adult-league flag football absent permission from the Panthers.
Indeed, Smith’s youth camp began on June 17 and lasted until
June 19. We’re told that the injury occurred during the championship
game of the adult league on Sunday.
So, if that’s how it went down, that’s apparently why Smith initially tried to keep it
quiet. Though he surely knew that word of the injury inevitably
would surface, he possibly wanted to be able to say he suffered the injury
on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday while camping with kids, not on Sunday
while playing competitively with the grown-ups. (Allegedly.)
Given the number of zeros he has in his contract, you’d think he’d be a bit more careful about his NFL career.