Introducing the other Steve Smith
If you’re a follower of the Empire, no introduction is needed. But for the NFL fan that automatically relates the name “Steve Smith” to the Carolina Panthers, I’m introducing you to the other one. Meet Steve Smith, one of many faces on the New York Giants roster, and the NFL’s leading receiver.
The Giants were placed on alert, in the absence of the big playmaking pass catcher Plaxico Burress. Burress is now an afterthought, sentenced to a two year jail sentence for shooting himself in the thigh, and long gone from the Giants organization.
Despite having a stable of young talent, including the first round addition of Hakeem Nicks, receiving concerns lingered into the opening of the season. Now with 5 games of the schedule complete, the call for a big play receiver is hushed, as Steve Smith has emerged and taken a bite out of the Big Apple.
Smith’s 37 catches for 481 yards leads the league in receiving. His team is undefeated and among the Super Bowl favorites. The more recognizable Steve Smith that plays in the south, has just 20 catches for 250 yards, and the Panthers have just one victory. Carolina’s Smith gained his national notoriety on speed and big plays, yet his longest catch for score has been just 28 yards. In comparison, The Giants’ Smith has been on the receiving end of a 43 yard play, and has proven to be clutch on every occasion.
As a member of the USC 2004 National Championship team, Steve Smith was often overshadowed by teammate Dwayne Jarrett. While Jarrett mirrored tall productive receivers like Keyshawn Johnson and Mike Williams, Smith was the best rout runner, possessed the better hands, and had more speed.
Riding the hype and numbers of collegiate performance, Dwayne Jarrett was selected in the second round of the 2007 NFL draft, the 45th pick overall. Six selections later, the Giants chose the other Trojan wide out. Since then, Jarrett, now a member of a receiving corps featuring Carolina’s Steve Smith, has disappeared. But his Trojan teammate, after battling though some early injuries with the Giants, has slowly appeared among the NFL’s elite.
The “other” Steve Smith? Maybe to some, as it usually takes more than a season to alter national perception. But more importantly, one thing has already changed in New York, and that’s the calling, and supposed need, for Plaxico Burress.