CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The Carolina Panthers refused to show "He Hate Me" any love, fining running back Rod Smart for missing practice when he was stuck
in Florida during Hurricane Jeanne.
Smart returned to his home in Lakeland, Fla., during Carolina's bye weekend, intending to return Sunday night. When the forecast for Jeanne worsened,
he tried to leave Florida a day early.
But the Tampa airport was closed, and Smart found himself stranded in Florida and unable to return in time for Monday's practice.
From his conversations with coach John Fox, Smart said he assumed he was not in trouble for missing practice.
"It was like `Are you OK? Is everyone doing OK? Are you safe? Get here when you can, ' " Smart said Thursday, summarizing his conversation with
"Then yesterday, they said `Make sure you look at your paycheck, it's going to be a little light. ' "
Smart didn't know how much the Panthers were fining him, estimating it would be between "$5,000 and $10,000."
"It is what it is," Smart said, borrowing Fox's favorite phrase. "This one, I lost."
Smart said he wasn't worried about spending the off weekend in Florida, where his home has traditionally avoided hurricanes. He assumed Jeanne would
only drench his town with rain.
Instead, it hit Lakeland fairly hard, knocking the roof off his aunt's house. Smart said it was the first hurricane he experienced firsthand, and he
was surprised how fierce it was.
"It was like a cat being stuck in a tree, and a dozen dogs at the bottom barking up at it," he said. "That's what it was like all night long."
Panthers linebacker Dan Morgan said he had been headed home to Miami, but didn't make the trip when his flight out of Charlotte was canceled because
of mechanical problems on the plane.
Had he made the trip, he also would have been stuck in Florida.
"I'm sure I would have been fined, too," Morgan said.
"He Fine Me"