CHARLOTTE - Steve Smith has always wanted to be the best in everything that he's done in life. From playing football to caring for his family and now working on NFL Network.
But, as he wrote in a post for NFL.com today, he relinquishes his title for best player in Panthers history to one man, Sam Mills.
Smith reflected on Mills' legacy today as he, Jake Delhomme, Jordan Gross and Wesley Walls are all about to join Mills in the Panthers Hall of Honor on Sunday.
"I'm honored to be a part of this group," Smith wrote. "Especially because I'll be joining Mills, who meant so much to me during my career and still does to this day, in this exclusive club."
Smith went on to tell the story of Mills and the legacy that he left on the Panthers organization. Mills encouraged Smith in the early part of his career when he only played on special teams, despite not even coaching his position group. And Smith was in the locker room in 2003 when Mills delivered his famous speech which inspired the phrase "Keep Pounding."
He also tells the story about how his third child, Boston, was born on the same night that Mills died. That bittersweet emotion still ties Smith to the memory and legacy of Mills' life nearly 15 years later.