Alex Smith won the NFL' s Comeback Player of the year Award after returning to the field last season nearly two years after suffering a major leg injury. It was a story that earned Washington a lot of positive coverage, but Alex Smith wants you to know that it wasn't all sunshine and rainbows from the new regime when he returned.
In a new interview with GQ, Smith describes what it was like returning to a team that had a new coaching staff and front office. He felt patronized by people who he described as seeing him like a leftover and a liability. Very few people in the organization believed he could seriously come back. The team wanted to place him on injured reserve.
I assume you were talking to the Washington Football Team throughout that process? Were they surprised to hear that you were ready to go?
They were. They never thought I was coming back. No one there. I did all my rehab outside of the building. They do ACLs and stuff like that. But walking in with what I had, it’s like you got three eyes.
So what was their response?
So there was a very small group of people that actually thought that I could do this. I think the rest of the world either doubted me, or they patronized me. “Yeah, that’s really nice that you’re trying.” When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan. They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in, I’m like the leftovers and I’m hurt and I’m this liability. Heck no, they didn’t want me there. At that point, as you can imagine, everything I’d been through, I couldn’t have cared less about all that. [laughs] Whether you like it or not, I’m giving this a go at this point.
And so you convinced them.
Well yeah. I mean, they tried to put me on PUP [Physically Unable to Perform] for two weeks, then they tried to IR me. I felt like I still hadn’t had my fair shake at that point. I wanted to see if I could play quarterback and play football, and I feel like I hadn’t been given that opportunity yet to find that out. It’s like getting this close to the end line of a marathon and they’re telling you that you can’t finish the race. It’s like, fuck that. I’m finishing this thing. At least I’m going to see if I can. So, I’m thankful we worked through all that stuff but no, it wasn’t like open arms coming back after two years. Like I said, new coaches, new faces, and I think I definitely surprised a lot of people that never thought I would even be trying it.
Alex Smith made the roster last year and helped the team earn their first division title in 5 years. He has two years left on his contract, but the team saves $14.7 million if he is released this year.
Washington has been actively looking to trade for a veteran QB, and sounds like it will be getting out of the Alex Smith business this year. He said he has more left on the football field, but hasn't fully committed to a return. Washington will be forced to release him, and this could be the first story of many before that cut happens. Grant Paulsen shared some possible reasons he was told that could have led to Smith's opening salvo.
Talked to several people in/around #WashingtonFootball team. I've come up with 2 primary things that may have frustrated Smith enough to say what he did to GQ.— Grant Paulsen (@granthpaulsen) February 23, 2021
1) Not getting to start the playoff game.
2) Rivera's comment that Allen could've turned season around like Smith did.