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Carolina Panthers

Smith up for the challenge


SPARTANBURG, S.C. – Steve Smith arrived at training camp Friday with an eye-catching hat. It read, 'I heart my life.'

"I do," Smith said.

He also loves challenges. As a 5-9 wide receiver, he always has.

Training camp is an annual challenge that never gets any easier, and it's one Smith appreciates.

"It's meant to be a grind," said Smith, an 11-year veteran. "I don't care what year you're in, training camp is meant to bend and break (people), and put them in uncomfortable situations."

And that, Smith says, is all part of playing the game.

"You know when you go off to training camp – that's just football," Smith said. "I think it's necessary."

Tomorrow, Smith and his teammates will embark on a two-and-a-half week grind on the campus of Wofford College. They'll push each other through intense heat to improve upon the strides made last year.

But before he left for Spartanburg, S.C., Smith issued a challenge of his own -- a challenge away from the football field.

He donated $ 100,000 to victims of the theater shooting in Aurora, Colo. Money that will help cover medical expenses for those injured.

"The reason I made it public and my agent sent out a press release," Smith said, "is because I think it's important for certain people at the right time to use their platform to challenge others."

Smith, a father of three, was shaken by the horrific shooting and was compelled to act.

"My oldest (child) went to see that movie in Charlotte at midnight. I can't imagine," Smith said. "We have the means and I think it's an opportunity to lead.

"People get prideful and say, 'Hey, if this guy did that, then why don't I do more?' ... It's a challenge for other people to think about, 'What are you here for? Are you here to just store up your treasures, or are you here to give and serve people that are in need?'"

Smith enters his 12th training camp with a renewed sense of perspective. He's got the hat to show it.

And he's ready to embrace his next camp challenge.

"You always get excited," Smith said. "Looking forward to making it through training camp and moving on to the season."

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