Alex Smith unleashed his wrath on the Washington Football Team with a series of quotes on Tuesday that seem wholly uncharacteristic of the quarterback, taking aim at the organization for not being true believers in his comeback story.
In a Q&A with GQ Magazine, Smith said the Washington Football Team was surprised to hear he was ready to go last training camp, saying, "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."
Smith continued to lambaste the team, going on to say he "threw a wrench" in their plans with his decision to return, adding, "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," he said. "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."
It was a stunning public display from a quarterback who's usually regarded as diplomatic, but regardless, Smith said what he said, and now Washington has to decide how it wants to move forward with its 36-year-old quarterback who's still under contract for two more years.
Clearly bothered by how he was treated, what drove Smith's decision to come clean in such a public manner?
After speaking with several people in and around the organization, 106.7 The Fan's Grant Paulsen points to two key moments in Washington's season that could help explain Smith's feelings.
"It sounds like there is something to, perhaps, him having been annoyed or frustrated, in terms of his relationship with the team most of the season or what have you," Paulsen said Tuesday on 106.7 The Fan. "Not that it was contentious or awful, but that he did feel like they didn't necessarily want him."
The first was something head coach Ron Rivera said to reporters the Wednesday before Washington's Week 17 regular season finale against the Eagles. Washington was 4-1 with Smith as a starter at that point, and soon to be 5-1.
Question: Could you have been in this position this year right now where you are before the playoffs without Alex?
"Well, if we had a healthy Kyle Allen, I think we could've. I really do," Rivera said. "I think we could've. And a big part of the reason is because Kyle, he's very similar to Alex in terms of his abilities. He's got the same kind of arm. He makes good decisions like Alex does. He's got good footwork. I think we could've been. I do."
Perhaps the reason this remark went overlooked at the time is it arrived the same week Washington decided to part with quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
"Is he trying to build up Kyle Allen? What was the point of saying it? Is it a little bit of a jab maybe at Alex Smith inadvertently? I'm not really sure," Paulsen said. "But Smith did not take well to that, from what I've been told."
The other occurrence which hasn't sat right with Smith was not getting the chance to start Washington's playoff game against Tampa Bay. Smith, who was said to still be recovering from a calf strain/bone bruise, even though he'd started in the week prior against the Eagles, wasn't even active for the Wild Card Game. Taylor Heinicke got the start instead and Washington wound up suffering a 31-23 defeat.
"The other is apparently not getting to play in the playoff game did not sit well with him at all," Paulsen said. "That, maybe he wanted to go in that playoff game, something that I haven't thought a whole lot about."
"I hadn't considered that," Danny Rouhier said. "This was always my thought. If he could have gone, they probably wouldn't have started the guy that was taking online classes at ODU as recently as a week before."
Whether it wanted one or not, Washington suddenly has a QB controversy on its hands.