CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Carolina receiver Steve Smith hopes Panthers owner Jerry Richardson playing a key role in negotiations for a new collective bargaining agreement with help avoid a work stoppage in 2011.
Smith has taken an active role in the unsettled labor situation as the new union representative for the Panthers. While the four-time Pro Bowl receiver is preparing financially, he called Richardson a "man of integrity" who will push to "allow football to go on and not deal with the lockout issues."
Speaking Tuesday after a photo op with the Mexican soccer team, Smith acknowledged he's lost friends after the Panthers' offseason purge of veterans. Asked if the cuts were made to clear payroll in anticipation of a lockout, Smith replied, "I hope that's not the case."