One of the NFL’s more out-of-nowhere feuds is over, at least as far as Steve Smith is concerned.
The Carolina Panthers great addressed his run-in with Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy during an appearance on ESPN’s “The Pat McAfee Show” on Friday, apologizing for harshly denouncing the fourth-year player on national television:
“I apologize for how I said it, what I said, and it didn’t sit well. That wasn’t my intent, but what’s done is done and I’m sorry. It makes me more aware that I gotta use different words and not make it come across like I’m jealous or envious of the current players, because I’m not.
The fun began before a “Thursday Night Football” game Oct. 12, when Smith, working for NFL Network, said he had called Jeudy a “JAG” (Just A Guy) on his podcast in the past and reached out to apologize. When the two ran into each other, Smith claimed Jeudy blew him off and cursed him out, leading to Smith, never one to take slights, saying this on NFL Network:
“I’m sorry I said you were a ‘JAG,’ just a guy, who is an average wide receiver they used a first-round pick on that isn’t doing anything. I hope today you actually show up in a way you haven’t shown up in the last couple years since they drafted you.
“So if you ever got a problem with Agent 89, I’m sorry for saying you’re an average wide receiver that they will eventually move on [from]. And when teams call me and ask if they should trade for you, I would say no, don’t trade for Jerry Jeudy. Because he’s mentally unable to handle constructive criticism from people who watch specifically, can he be a wide receiver? He can be a wide receiver. He’s a tier three.”
It took a full week for Jeudy to address the matter. The 24-year-old said he didn’t know Smith was planning to apologize to him, but also said he was put off by Smith approaching him after criticizing him. Jeudy didn’t seem to enjoy the attention, especially with speculation surrounding his Broncos future with Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline approaching.
Jeudy didn’t seem to enjoy the attention, especially with speculation surrounding his Broncos future with the NFL trade deadline approaching on Tuesday. As Smith explained Friday, he wanted to apologize when he heard Jeudy didn’t like what he had to say, but reacted badly when Jeudy profanely snubbed him:
“What I said and how I said it, it wasn’t the best way how to say it. Because of that, I really didn’t pay it any attention because it had come and gone. When it led up to this year, I had heard some things that it just didn’t sit well with him.
“When I approached Jerry Jeudy, I wanted to say I apologize because it was the type of words that I used that obviously did not sit well with him and that’s more important than walking back my words. If you can talk about a man, you’ve got to be able to look that man in the eye and say something and give him an opportunity.
“When he responded the way he did, which I won’t get into the totality and what all was said, what he said, I didn’t handle it … I was very emotional with how he said it. I came back on the air and was like ‘Cool.’ For me, I want to apologize and this is my apology.”
Basically, Smith apologized for reacting badly to Jeudy reacting badly to his attempt to apologize.
You can say Jeudy, a former 15th overall pick, has underachieved in his NFL career, but there aren’t many players in NFL history who have received a public show of contrition from Steve Smith.