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Steve Smith: I will always consider myself a Panther

Steve Smith moved on from the Panthers, but Charlotte is still his city.

The former Carolina Panthers receiver took out a three-quarter-page ad Saturday in The Charlotte Observer thanking fans for their support during his 13-year stint.

"This has been a difficult time for me and my family," Smith wrote. "But you all have been a bright spot for us."

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Cut by the Panthers after being the longtime face of the franchise, Smith signed a three-year, $11 million contract with the Baltimore Ravens this month.

Smith holds a plethora of Panthers records, including the most receptions in team history.

As the Observer's Joe Person notes, while Smith has had some colorful comments after his release, the pass-catcher hasn't taken on a bitter stance against Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman.

Perhaps that lack of public bashing could lead to an eventual retirement with the franchise that he led for so many years. Regardless of the outcome, Smith's home is in Charlotte. 

"I will always consider myself a Carolina Panther," Smith wrote. "And I look forward to the day when I get to come home to celebrate my career, and retire in the city I've grown to love and appreciate very much."

It's a classy move by Smith. You can read the entire letter here.

*The latest "Around The League Podcast" discusses DeSean Jackson trade talks, plays running back roulette and welcomes Lance Briggs into the studio. *

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