Panthers’ Smith Quiets Hostile Crowds Library Style

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina. Carolina Panthers’ wide receiver Steve Smith likes to say he can make an opposing team’s home stadium “quiet as a liberry” with the explosive skills that have made him one of the NFL’s most feared offensive threats.

“You–be quiet!”

As a result, the Panthers have acquired a reputation as the NFL’s ultimate “Road Warriors”, winning eight of ten away games during the 2006 regular season and an NFL-record tying four in a row in the post-season before falling to the Seahawks in the NFC Championship Game.

Boston Public Library:  “Shh–the perverts are sleeping.”

Smith hopes to continue that tradition this Sunday in New England whose largest city–Boston–is the eighth most literate in America.  It will be a tough chore, however, since Boston libraries are actually bustling places and not the quiet refuges of yore, according to Priscilla Smith-Volker, head librarian at the city’s Copley Square branch. “Goodness, we have a lot going on,” she says in her prim and proper manner. “There’s story hour for the toddlers, a foreign film series, and perverts downloading child pornography at the computers.”

Early in the second quarter of the Panthers’ 16-6 win over Tampa Bay last Sunday Smith was seen berating the Panthers’ offensive staff on the sideline.

John Dewey: An organized guy.

“I told them to get me the damn ball, but they were totally disorganized. They were using Library of Congress Class Headings. You can’t get to the Super Bowl ‘less you use Dewey Decimal Classifications,” he said, referring to the two principal library cataloging systems.

“Get me the damn ball, or let me renew War and Peace!”

In the team’s last road game against the New York Jets Smith was held to one catch for five yards, a setback he blames on the team’s coaching staff. “That fool filed our playbook under ‘Sports, Recreational’,” Smith noted, referring to the Panthers’ offensive coordinator Jeff Davidson. “Goddam, man–he should have put it under ‘Sports, Competitive’!”

At least he used to be a genius.

For his part, head coach John Fox refused to blame Smith or Panthers’ quarterback Jake Delhomme for the loss that day. “I take full responsibility,” Fox said. “I came into town and tried to check out David Halberstam’s book on Bill Belichick (The Education of a Coach) on a temporary library card. They told me I couldn’t borrow any ‘New Arrivals’ unless I had a utility bill with a local address.” As a result, Fox never learned the secrets of the Patriots’ coaching genius.

“When I get to Boston I’ll just buy it at the airport,” Fox said ruefully.  “Maybe it’s marked down now that Belichick isn’t a genius anymore.”