Alex Smith: Dan Snyder has ‘tarnished’ history and legacy of franchise

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At the end of the introduction of Monday’s episode of the ESPN Daily podcast, host Pablo Torre lays out the topics he will discuss with his guest, former quarterback Alex Smith. The first few are typical for the day after a wild action of NFL football.

But the last topic, about the final stop in Smith’s 16-year career, is not like all the others. The final topic is “what it’s like to play football for a man who really needs to sell his team.”

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After 40 minutes of breakdowns of the good from the previous day’s game – an insane ending to the Minnesota Vikings over the Buffalo Bills and the emergence of Tua Tagovailoa in Miami – the conversation turned to what Torre called, an “utter garbage fire.”

When asked about his sense of what it is like for the current Washington Commanders players and what it is like to have played for owner Daniel Snyder, as a former player, Smith said he grapples with a lot of it.

“I think having been there for three years and lived in D.C. and worn the uniform. And it’s a fanbase and a history that is second to none when it comes to loyalty and history and I mean that in such a positive way,” Smith said. “I think to see what’s gone on, certainly the last 10 or 15  years though, has really tarnished that. Has tarnished that legacy of the team.”

Smith said that as a player there is always talk of “eliminating distractions.”

“There’s a lot of noise around NFL teams, every NFL team; The media, the coverage, the week-to-week ups and downs, there’s just a lot of distractions out there,” he said. “We preach this as players – and certainly coaches preach it, too – we’re really talking about the locker room. I mean often times the distractions come from some of the knuckleheads in there. And we can be our own worst enemies sometimes. I’ve never seen a place where the distractions come from the other side of the building. Ya know?

“Like, for everybody out there, these are big facilities. And half the building is kinda dedicated to football, right. As you think, it's weight rooms and locker rooms and practice fields and all that kinda stuff. Well, the other half it’s all the entire business entity of the organization and you rarely interact with each other [even though] you’re at the same building, though.”

Torre interjected: That’s “supposed to be the boring side.”

“And rarely do you even think of them. They’re so kind of… secondary to the football side,” Smith continued. “But when you get to Washington, it’s just not that. It’s the total opposite. It seems like a never-ending stream of questions you get asked from the media about the stuff that’s coming out of the other side of the building. This never-ending distraction.”

Smith said that makes it hard on the fan base that “wants so bad to support you as a player, but they also have such a hard time with the owner” which creates a “split dilemma” for fans.

“They don’t want to come support you at FedEx Field, it’s probably the worst game day experience in the country. It’s not that they don’t love you as a player, it’s not that they don’t love their team, 'cause they do,” he tells Torre. “So it’s hard, as a player, you’re thrust in and half the time you’re not really even from there, you’re in the middle of it, you’re trying to dissect it, you’re just trying to win ball games, and play your best. So, it’s hard.

“And to say all that, it’s there, you can’t eliminate it, it’s too loud, it is. It’s distracting, I’m sure more than ever, those guys the last couple years it’s been even harder. I think, I hope that the news of the forthcoming sale of the team, in some ways probably has eased some pressure, I hope. Cause I do hope, now we can move on and move forward. And a return to what that team and organization should be.”

Smith adds he can’t think of another example of a franchise that has gone through anything like this, but “hopefully we’re at the tail end of it.”

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