Washington football fans aren't the only ones familiar with Alex Smith's comeback story by now. At this point, most who follow sports know what Smith overcame to play for Washington this past season and so do many who don't follow the team at all.
Given all of the attention, one would think that everything about Smith's journey has basically been said, right? Not exactly.
On Tuesday, GQ.com published an interview with the quarterback, and the typically-reserved Smith was incredibly forthcoming regarding his feelings about how Washington handled his return.
For a guy usually adept at saying a lot and nothing at the same time, Smith actually said a lot to GQ starting with these quotes on how, from his perspective, he clearly took the organization by surprise with his unwavering commitment to playing again after his 2018 injury and rehab.
"When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team's plan," Smith told the magazine. "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," Smith continued. "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. Whether you like it or not, I'm giving this a go at this point."
The process of giving it a go only began after Smith was taken off of the PUP list during training camp last summer, a huge event that occurred in mid-August.
From there, head coach Ron Rivera and the medical staff made a point of easing him into action. Slowly, they experimented with him in individual drills, then 7-on-7 work. Eventually, he demonstrated enough to earn a spot on the 53-man roster for the season.
Yet by the sound of it, Smith didn't completely appreciate how that particular chapter of his story was handled. In his mind, he had to convince Washington that he could be trusted, as opposed to them realizing that on their own.
Of course, Rivera and Co. proceeded with caution on their end because of the never-before-seen nature of Smith's injury and subsequent infections and surgeries and rehab. But an NFL player wanting to play as soon as possible is a tale as old as time as evidenced by this stance from Smith.
"They tried to put me on PUP for two weeks, then they tried to high-arm me," Smith said. "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, [expletive] that. I'm finishing this thing. At least I'm going to see if I can."
Added Smith: "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."
When asked for comment about the GQ piece on Smith, the team declined to offer anything further.
Rivera and Smith did speak often throughout the year about the relationship that they developed with one another. Each drew inspiration from the other's ability to deal with adversity. And in many of Smith's past interviews, as well as ESPN's Project 11 documentary last spring, the 36-year-old came across as grateful for the Burgundy and Gold's role in this crucial stage of his career.
However, judging by these remarks, not everything was as smooth or as joyful behind the scenes as it looked publicly.
Smith's last quote in the GQ.com piece is one about his future, which he reiterated is wide open. Does that future include a uniform switch, though? He wouldn't elaborate on that, but with Washington potentially needing a total reset under center, the "wrench" in "the plan" label may soon be relevant again.
"I made a ton of gains through the year, and I still feel like I have more left to go gain," Smith said. "I still feel like there's stuff for me to go get out there, and get better. But this offseason, there's a bunch I want to go do off the field. But football-wise, I got more left. I got more to get there, too. So I really do really wanna get in the meat of this offseason and see where I'm at and push it. I want to push my body harder. I want to push my leg harder."