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Former teammate sues Panthers wide receiver for fight injury

/ Source: Associated Press Sports

Former Carolina Panthers player Anthony Bright has sued the team and standout wide receiver Steve Smith, claiming his NFL career was ruined after a film-room fight in 2002.

       Bright seeks actual and punitive damages in excess of $10,000.

       A Panthers spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit, which was filed Wednesday in Charlotte.

       Bright had surgery on his face after being hit by Smith during a film session Nov. 18, 2002. The suit alleges Smith attacked the practice-squad player after Bright asked for a play to be shown again.

       Bright was unable to return to the team in 2002, and the Panthers didn't bring him back last season. He has made failed attempts to join other NFL teams.

       ''He was there on the team (the Panthers) and it was his shot, we thought, and he just hasn't been able to get back to that level since (the attack),'' Bright's lawyer, Guy Crabtree, said Thursday.

       Bright recently signed with Orlando in the Arena Football League and has played in two games for the Predators, catching seven passes for 129 yards and one touchdown. Crabtree said Bright now plays with a protective bubble over the front of his helmet and remains susceptible to a head or face injury.

       In the suit, Bright claims that he was close to moving from the practice squad to a more lucrative spot on the regular roster. Bright was on the active roster for the first five games of the 2002 season before being released and re-signed to the practice squad.

       Smith was suspended by the team for one game and fined after the fight. Criminal assault charges were dismissed May 4 after he entered a deferred-prosecution program.

       Smith emerged as Carolina's top receiver last year, catching 88 passes for 1,110 yards and seven touchdowns. He signed a $27 million contract in February.