Originally created 11/21/02

Smith suspended for fighting



CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina wide receiver Steve Smith was suspended by the Panthers on Wednesday for one game for a fight that sent teammate Anthony Bright to the hospital.

Bright suffered a broken nose in the fight that broke out during Monday's film session, spokesman Charlie Dayton said.

Smith's suspension came at the same time the Panthers were considering their discipline options for offensive lineman Chris Terry, who was arrested Wednesday for failing to appear in court on a misdemeanor charge of assaulting his wife.

These difficulties are just the latest troubles for the Panthers (3-7) during its eight seasons in the NFL.

Carolina receiver Isaac Byrd visited Bright, a practice squad player, in the hospital Tuesday and called his injuries "very disturbing."

"I wanted to leave the room the second I walked in there," Byrd said. "When I saw him his face was covered, it was like a sheet below the eyes. The nose was covered. Half the face was swollen and his (left) eye was closed ... you'd have thought there was a bulldozer in Steve's fist."

Byrd was one of the few players to speak about the fight, which coach John Fox disclosed following practice.

Byrd said the receivers were in a dark room watching film when Smith attacked Bright. He did not say if Smith was provoked or what led to the fight.

"I can't comment like I want to because I'll get in trouble," Byrd said.

Byrd said Smith called Bright's hospital room while he was there and that he also spoke to Smith.

"I can tell you he was tore up about it, and I've never seen Steve that way," Byrd said. "He was down, down, down in the dumps. He called me a couple of times to talk. I could tell he wanted to talk to somebody."

Smith, an All-Pro kick returner as a rookie last season, will miss Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons. He issued a statement Wednesday apologizing to Bright and the rest of the team for his actions.

"Being away and watching this week will be difficult," he said. "But I take full responsibility for my absence and actions."

As for Terry, he turned himself in to deputies in a courtroom at the Mecklenburg County Courthouse shortly after 9 a.m. and was released less than three hours later after posting a $15,000 secured bond.

An arrest warrant was issued Tuesday for Terry.

Carolina coach John Fox said he planned to meet with Terry sometime Wednesday, but that the player had made no contact with the team prior to turning himself in.

The Panthers reached the NFC Championship game in just their second season of existence, then suffered the humiliation of a series of off-field problems and seasons of losing - they set an NFL record last year by losing 15-straight games.

Kerry Collins, the franchise's first-ever draft pick, basically quit the team.

Rae Carruth, another first-round draft pick, was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder after hit men shot and killed his pregnant girlfriend.

Fred Lane, the franchise's all-time leading rusher, was shot to death by his wife in his Charlotte home. She is awaiting trial on murder charges, as well as separate charges of bank robbery.

Rashard Anderson, taken in the first round of the 2000 draft, is suspended by the NFL this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

Defensive end Brentson Buckner is currently serving a four-game suspension for using a banned dietary supplement and league sack leader Julius Peppers is appealing the same penalty.

"I'm going to save it all for the book," tight end Wesley Walls said. "There's been some crazy stuff that's happened around here, I mean, it happens everywhere, but there's no lack of drama with the Carolina Panthers ... just when I think I've seen it all, then something else happens that I haven't seen."