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As expected, the Panthers announced the release of veteran wide receiver Steve Smith this afternoon. (Presumably they told an intern to break the news to the temperamental Smith, then quickly left the building.)

"Steve Smith has been one of the NFL's finest receivers for over a decade and has been the face of the franchise for a large part of the team's history," GM Dave Gettleman said in a statement. "This was not an easy decision. As a team, we made a step forward last year; however, we are also a team in transition, which is a part of the NFL."


Smith's production fell off a cliff this season, and with a $7 million cap hit for 2014, this was an inevitability. But after 13 seasons, it's so hard to say goodbye. Some hardy Panthers fans have gathered outside Bank of America Stadium for a "Save Smitty" rally. We take you to the scene!

[Top photo by Chris Littman/Sporting News]


If the photos don't get the sentiment across, this tweet is pretty much perfect.

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