I went to pick up takeout Tuesday night and, since I was sitting at the bar and would have felt guilty taking space but not using it, I ordered a drink. Then came a second I didn't order.
"The gentleman over there bought it," the bartender said.
In the corner of the restaurant was a familiar face -- Carolina cornerback Captain Munnerlyn.
Now, I am not going to interrupt somebody's dinner to do anything but say hello, so I said hello, and Munnerlyn was gracious as always.
So we talked a little. I asked if he remembered running to each other last off-season at a Charlotte Bobcats game. He was without a contract. I told him I hoped he would be back and he smiled and said he hoped he would be, too.
Munnerlyn would sign a one-year contract with the Panthers and have his best season. You can not keep the man on the bench, and I guarantee coaches have tried. Here he is again, without a contract, not knowing what will happen next.
A seventh-round pick out of South Carolina, Munnerlyn is undersized. He is aware of this. But he takes nothing. That can get him in trouble; his head butt Sunday against San Francisco did. His timing was off on that one, since he was the player who was caught and penalized. But he invests the defensive backfield with his personality.
As we talked, a customer gestured wildly behind Munnerlyn and mouth the words, "Who's that, who's that."
The customer didn't want to miss a possible encounter with a celebrity. After I left Munnerlyn, I whispered to the guy, "That's Steve Smith."
"Thought so," said the man triumphantly.
As I walked back to the bar I heard a voice loudly proclaim, "I am not Steve Smith."