In an interview with GQ released last month, former Washington quarterback Alex Smith said his return in 2020 “definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan,” adding that Washington saw him as a liability.
“Heck no, they didn’t want me there,” Smith said.
The Football Team has since released the 2020 comeback player of the year, making him free to sign with any team. But addressing the media for the first time since that article came out, Washington head coach Ron Rivera wasn’t offended by Smith’s comments.
“To be quite honest with you, I don’t disagree with a lot of things that he said. I really don’t,” Rivera said in his Wednesday press conference.
Rivera noted that in his conversation with Smith prior to the quarterback’s release, the two men discussed how the head coach felt about the risk involved with Smith’s potential return.
“I said, ‘Alex, I’ll be honest, I was scared to death. I didn’t know what to expect.’ Which I believe he appreciated, was [me] just telling him how I felt — how hard it was for us,” Rivera said. “I think that’s the thing that everybody forgets, is Alex did a great job. He worked his butt off to put himself in position to come back and play.
“But I said, there’s a part that people don’t understand and that’s we — as a coaching staff — had to look through this and think through this. And it was always in the back of my head, what if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg — that specific leg — again? I’m going to be the guy that put him back on the field and let him get hurt again. So I told him, I fought with that, struggled with that every day.”
Rivera added that team owner Dan Snyder was long in Smith’s corner, having told Rivera at one point, “If he plays, Ron, I’m betting on the old guy.”
Smith played eight games in 2020, starting six, completing 67 percent of his passes for 1,582 yards with six touchdowns and eight interceptions. The Football Team was 5-1 in Smith’s starts and won the NFC East at 7-9.
Though it won’t happen in Washington, Rivera expects Smith will find a good job elsewhere.
“Knowing Alex, from just this year, he’ll get an opportunity to play again,” Rivera said. “He really will, I think. And he’ll do a great job at it. That’s who he is.”