Dozens gather for #SaveSmitty rally uptown

Dozens gather for #SaveSmitty rally uptown

Dozens gather for #SaveSmitty rally uptown

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by WCNC.com Staff & Associated Press

WCNC.com

Posted on March 13, 2014 at 11:26 AM

Updated Friday, Mar 14 at 6:10 AM

CHARLOTTE, N.C.  -- The Carolina Panthers released wide receiver Steve Smith on Thursday, according to the team.

The Panthers made the announcement via Twitter around 11:30 a.m.

Smith is coming off a season in which he caught 64 passes for 745 yards and four touchdowns.

On Wednesday, Smith’s agent, Derrick Fox, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that Smith "is not going to play for the Panthers next year, I know that. I just don't know when that transaction is going to take place."

On Thursday morning, dozens of Panthers fans gathered in front of Bank of America stadium for the Save Smitty rally. They held signs and did an #IceUpSon cheer, and waved to cars that honked as they drove by.

 

Many of the fans told NBC Charlotte's Dianne Gallagher that they wish Smith had been given the chance to retire as a Panther.

“Steve has been an important part of this team since I have been head coach and before my arrival," Panthers coach Ron Rivera said via Twitter.  

Fox said Smith, a 13-year NFL veteran, would have preferred to finish his career with Carolina, the team that drafted him in the third round in 2001. 

 For his career, Smith ranks 25th in NFL history with 836 catches and 19th all-time with 12,197 receiving yards. His entire career has been with the Panthers. As for the Panthers, Smith is the all-time leader in touchdowns, receptions and receiving yards.

“He's a great competitor with Hall of Fame worthy stats and has made great contributions to our community. I wish him the best," Rivera said.

Smith was a third-round draft pick from Utah in 2001. He has played in 182 games with the Panthers, second only to former kicker John Kasay at 221. 

Smith has 161 starts which is second in team history to Jordan Gross.

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