In what is sure to get more air time this week than is warranted Panthers WR Steve Smith responded in knee-jerk fashion when told QB Jimmy Clausen had sought out John Beason and apologized for his performance:
"If you’re going to apologize, you know, you should apologize to the people in the huddle with you," Smith said. "He has a lot to learn. He ain’t at Notre Dame anymore that’s for sure."
I don't think Smith was asking for a personal apology from Clausen but for some reason felt slighted that the rookie QB would apologize to the defense and not those on offense instead. Clausen tried to explain his reasoning:
"I don’t feel like I’m playing to my level of capability that I expect of myself," Clausen said, explaining his apology to the defense. "I thought that was the right thing to do."
Beason and LT Jordan Gross weigh in on the tiff after the jump...
Beason had this to say later about what he said in return to Clausen:
"He just apologized […] I told him that at times like this all you can do is do your job. The quarterback position is tough. You need help from the offensive line, the backs, the receivers and there’s a lot that goes into that. I told him to keep working and we’ll get better. Try to get better, that’s it."
As James said in the open thread earlier these statements show the difference between a leader and a star. Beason's words were meant to give the kid a shot of confidence even if he didn't deserve it. Smith's comment was meant to wound in retribution for the obvious public slight. Smith's comment is the type of comment that could lead to open conflict in the locker room if it was anyone besides Smith. We've grown to expect Smith's outbursts when the team loses, its part of his persona that makes him the player he is and so therefore we tolerate it. I'm prepared to continue to tolerate it because I still want him on the team. I bet Beason later tells Clausen in private to ignore Smith and his 'passion'.
LT Jordan Gross responded just as he always does:
Leave it to Gross to make humor of the situation while also maintaining a degree of seriousness. I have no problem to that approach as well.
Let's not make too much of Smith's comments, its very in-character for him in light of the 1-12 record and his loathing of losing. The important part is how does Clausen react? He better get used to working with NFL Prima Donnas, those that have been long established before he even graced South Bend. It's time to shelve the ego, talk to your team mates and stay committed to executing the offense. I can't see things not getting uglier any other way.