Once a hate rival, always a hated rival. That’s often the way things work in the NFL. At least, that’s how Atlanta Falcons fans probably view former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith right now.
Smith hosted Green Bay Packers rookie wide receiver Jayden Reed on his podcast Steve Smith Sr.’s Cut to It on July 19. Reed explained during the interview that before the Packers selected him at No. 50 overall, the Atlanta Falcons were a team he thought might pick him.
Upon hearing that, the former Panthers receiver threw some major shade at Falcons quarterback Desmond Ridder.
“I can tell you right now with the Atlanta Falcons. Man, they ain’t got no quarterback,” Smith claimed. “You dodged a bullet on that.”
Reed actually agreed with Smith. He responded with, “For sure.”
The other two teams Reed mentioned that he thought could pick him were the Detroit Lions and San Francisco 49ers. Smith and Reed concurred that going to the 49ers would have been nice, but then Reed added that he is “happy” where he is with Green Bay.
It’s understandable why a receiver would prefer to land with the 49ers or even the Lions over the Falcons right now. As Atlanta fans know, San Francisco head coach Kyle Shannahan keeps the 49ers offense humming no matter who is behind center.
Detroit’s offense finished in the top 5 in points and yards last season. Because of that, the Lions have a lot of hype heading into training camp.
But considering Reed landed with the Packers, Smith saying the rookie “dodged a bullet” going to Green Bay instead of Atlanta is a bit curious. Jordan Love will enter 2023 as the Packers starter behind center, and he isn’t any more proven that Ridder.
Both quarterbacks have only played a small sample at the NFL level. But Ridder supports a better career completion percentage and touchdown-to-interception ratio than Love. Ridder is also 2-2 as a starter. Love lost his only start in 2021 for the Packers, who finished 13-3 with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
Without Ridder behind center last season, the Falcons were 5-8.
But as the saying goes, some habits die hard. Maybe Smith still holds ill will toward Atlanta thanks to his 13 years with the Panthers.