I met Steve Smith Sr #89 in the potato chip aisle

When you live in Charlotte, NC area you can’t help but know who the Carolina Panthers are.

Many will remember when the Rajun Cajun Jake Delhomme lead the big cats to the Super Bowl in 2005.

Under the direction of Cam Newton they made it to the Super Bowl in 2015.

Steve Smith Sr had a significant role in both of these campaigns. At 5' 9" he was small in stature but big in heart and ability.

He left the Panthers in 2014 and played 3 years for the Baltimore Ravens.

Even though Super Steve was no longer active on the field he remained active in the Charlotte community through his charitable foundation. He has given back in a big way and touched many lives.

In the most recent two years he has been high profile on the NFL Network. He has been involved in the studio and in pre-game shows. His opinions and observations never fail to educate and entertain. I always appreciated his candid comments and in a a lot of ways, he reminds me of Charles Barkley with his unfiltered bold comments.

Call me a creature of habit. I’m not a big fan of crowds especially at the grocery store, I had mild ADD and if I’m there too long, I crash & burn.

On a early morning visit to the Harris-Teeter grocery in Charlotte, NC I’m cruising through the store and checking items off my list. I turned on to the potato chip isle and there in front of me was number 89. He saw my AF Veteran cap and said ‘thank you for your service’ That opened the door to a conversation that lasted about 10 minutes.

He told me of his families long history of service in the military and of his relatives that were Buffalo Soldiers. We had a great visit their among the chips and not a single person came into the aisle the whole time we were there.

I was conscious of his time and said thanks for taking the time to speak with me. He smiled and said ‘we appreciate our Vets’ I said ‘ I have 2 Sons who are big Panther Fans and PSL season ticket holders’. I told him ‘ my 2 boys tell me if you don’t have a pic of the event it didn’t happen’. He said ‘ no problem, tooj my smart phone a captured a great photo.

I sent it to my two Sons who of course wanted to know the rest of the story. They wanted to know why I didn’t ask him about ‘X-Clown’. As a Panther fan, this is known to be one of the single biggest plays in Panther history.

It was 2005, the NFC Championship game between the Panthers and the St Louis Rams in St Louis. You might recall the ‘greatest show on turf’. The game went into overtime and on the first play of the second OT, the Offensive Coordinator, Dan Henning called X-Clown. Jake hit Steve in stride who raced into the end zone and launched the Panthers into their first Super Bowl.

Not much longer after that, my oldsest Son Ben who is a Charlotte area Realtor had an opportunity to participate in Steve’s annual Bowling event charity. Ben told me before hand to get the photo I had blown up and ask him to sign it.

I did, and Steve did. I know have a framed photo of me an Steve and signed: great things happen in the potato chip aisle.

Just call me a fan for life!

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Jon D. Lastra

Jon D. Lastra

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