Alex Smith felt 'patronized' by WFT during comeback, per SI originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
Sports Illustrated published a very in-depth piece Thursday that's centered on Alex Smith, and in it, the quarterback's assessment of how the Washington Football Team viewed his comeback attempt comes across as more brutal and honest than what he told GQ in February.
"Smith found the coaches 'patronizing,' meaning he believed they preferred a cute story, the comeback already at the end," SI's Greg Bishop wrote. "His father, Doug, says he believes the team 'sabotaged' the return. None of the Smiths could figure out why."
The QB is then quoted directly: "I’d rather have somebody right in my face say, What are you thinking? It pissed me off."
Bishop also wrote that Smith "did not understand the tactics his coaches used to keep him sidelined," referencing the franchise's choice to put the passer on the Physically Unable to Perform list ahead of training camp despite his doctors clearing him for action.
Furthermore, the veteran was unhappy with the sort of work he was asked to do at camp, such as pushing sleds and having to carry extra weight, things he had never done as a pro before. In Smith's mind, he was being unfairly tested.
In a statement, Ron Rivera responded to the criticisms from his former player.
"I was scared to death about putting [Alex] back out there and that is something I struggled with every day," Washington's coach said. "It’s unfortunate that he feels we patronized him because I can tell you that was not our intention.
"At the end of the day, I commend Alex because he proved everyone wrong and exceeded any reasonable expectations that anyone had set for him. He not only made it back onto the field but led us to the playoffs. It was a truly remarkable feat."
It would make sense for any decision-maker put in Rivera's position to be hesitant to expose Smith to an NFL defense after all he had to overcome. Smith deserves credit for his all-time determination, but who wouldn't be fearful of letting him get hurt again?
Smith certainly caused a stir when he told GQ that he believed Washington's new regime "didn't want" him and didn't give him a chance last summer as he was hoping to return to the field, but those comments feel almost kind when compared to what he shared with Sports Illustrated.
With Smith retired and Washington adding Ryan Fitzpatrick and preparing for a new future under center, both sides are set to move on from one another. So, this storyline should be fully faded soon.
In the meantime, it has been jarring to hear such candor from the usually-reserved Smith, especially after a season that on the surface seemed so positive.