The selfishness of a starting Quarterback is almost forbidden on a football team. In fact, I can only think of one situation in where I’d allow it. When an NFL franchise picks a Quarterback in the first round of the draft, it’s an obvious statement to the whole franchise. The front office is telling everyone that they’re making a big business decision. They’re telling everyone that the player that’s being selected is going to immediately or eventually become the leader of the club. They’re saying that they bet the future of the current coaching staff and a large portion of the franchises capital on it. They’re also telling the current starting Quarterback that they don’t think he can take the ball club where they want it to go and that his days are numbered. Kansas City’s current starting Quarterback Alex Smith has just experienced this when the Chiefs selected big armed and uniquely talented Quarterback Patrick Mahomes II out of Texas Tech university with the 10th overall pick in last April’s NFL draft. Kansas City traded a pair of 1st round picks as well as a third-round selection for the opportunity to grab Mahomes as the organization’s quarterback of the future. As he’s selected, General manager John Dorsey, CEO Clark Hunt and head coach Andy Reid high five each other in celebration at the teams draft war room back in Missouri whilst Patrick’s great agent Leigh Steinbergh and Patrick celebrate with Patrick’s family in Tyler, Texas. Patrick is so great outside the pocket and reminds me a lot of the great gunslinger Brett Favre. Dorsey and Reid have both had experience and championship seasons with Favre in Green Bay so the link and mind set behind the pick is pretty obvious to me. But where does this leave current starting Quarterback Alex Smith ?. I know he’s not getting any younger but I feel he still has a lot of time left. More time than you’d like to sit a player that you’ve just took in the first round. The season prior, Smith had taken the organization deep into the playoffs with the support of a great defense. I think he played some very smart football by keeping passes short and accurate as coach Andy Reid called out the plays to him. He never played the role of the gunslinger Quarterback but I’ve always known that he’s had the ability to do so. Coach Reid has a great offensive mind and I think he called a certain game for Smith last season. A very low risk passing game whilst relying heavily on the run and a great defense to keep them in almost every game they played. The idea for the Chiefs now will be for Mahomes to come in and sit behind Smith with a clipboard whilst learning the offense and taking practice snaps on a weekly basis until he’s ready to take the starting role. I think this is a true test of character to the incumbent Quarterback. It’s truly a make or break situation.
This isn’t the first time in his career Smith has had this done to him. It happened to him in San Francisco during their superbowl year in 2013 whilst he was sidelined with concussion. Then San Francisco head coach Jim Harbaugh had drafted Colin Kaepernick out of The university of Nevada and replaced Smith with him after Kaepernick came in and played some incredible football whilst Smith was in the concussion protocol. Had Kapernick not been drafted or had the concussion protocol not come into the game then Smith very likely would’ve had a great season and is probably still in San Francisco. Colin Kaepernick was Harbaugh’s guy despite the fact that Smith was playing some great football. He also lost his job to injury which is frowned upon by many in the game. Harbaugh turned a dysfunctional franchise around in San Francisco and Smith had played all through that dysfunction. In his 7 seasons prior there he played under 3 Head coaches, 7 Offensive coordinators and had 17 different starting wide receivers. The parallels of this situation are very interesting to me. I’ve seen it before many times. I’ve seen it with all the names I’ve mentioned so far including Brett Favre in Green Bay whilst Aaron Rogers was drafted there by General Manager Ted Thompson in the 2005 draft. The same draft where Alex Smith was drafted 1st overall to San Francisco . Rogers went later to Green Bay at 24 as he sat in the draft green room with embarrassment as he was the last invited player to be drafted. Many thought the Californian based Quarterback could possibly be the 1st pick overall to San Francisco instead of Smith. Rogers just sat and watched as players that couldn’t even lace his cleats got picked before him. Even Quarterback Brady Quinn out of Notre Dame went before him. He looked embarrassed and ashamed as the eyes of the world looked upon him. He sat whilst the organizers cleaned the tables around him. I was happy that a team came in for him with the 24th pick but not many expected that to be the Green Bay Packers. It meant that Ted Thompson and Green Bay were looking to replace Favre just as the Chiefs are looking to replace Smith. Many thought Thompson was crazy at the time but it’s turned out perfect almost. Favre didn’t handle it too well. In an interview at the time the great Quarterback was asked how he was going to handle the situation. He said …
” I don’t owe him (Aaron Rogers) or anyone else anything other than being a nice guy and being thoughtful. I don’t have to give him any insight to what I do or don’t do. Where does it say that you have to take that guy under your wing and teach him the ropes ?. You don’t have to do anything but win ball games for whoever it is that you’re the starting Quarterback for. Ultimately that’s what keeps you around or doesn’t. Whether or not you take a guy under your wing means nothing ” – Favre
It was well known that Packers General manager Ted Thompson lit a fire under Brett Favre and the franchise eventually traded him to the New York Jets in 2008 whilst he was still playing at a very high level. They knew it was time for the Aaron Rogers era and knew that he needed those three seasons behind Favre in preparation to come in and win the Lambeau field crowd and Packers fan base over after having their hall of fame signal caller traded away. Much like Ringo Starr coming into replace a much more talented and tougher Pete Best with the Beatles. Rogers did it in spectacular fashion though to his credit and with no help from Favre. I often felt that the humiliation draft day and going 23 picks after Alex Smith was enough to give him the fuel to last him a career. He’s also hooked up with HBO’s ‘The Newsroom’ actress Olivia Munn so the guy is definitely on his way to the hall of fame. I wonder if dating Olivia Munn will have an impact with the hall’s selection committee ?. I’m thinking if they saw the show and listened to Sloan Sabbith talk for three seasons then it’d definitely improve his chances.
Favre went on to get traded from New York to the Packers division rival Minnesota Vikings and I’ll never forget his return to Lambeau Field to play against Rogers. He played some amazing football in Minnesota and took them to the Championship game in 2009. He played so tough in that championship game against the Saints. Probably the toughest performance I’ve ever seen from a Quarterback. Either he or Steve McNair are the toughest I’ve seen. The Gregg Williams coached defense did everything they could to get him injured and off the field but the ironman wouldn’t leave. He threw a late interception though and the Saints went on to win the Superbowl against Payton Manning’s Colts with another late interception. Gregg Williams and that defense would be punished eventually because he’d hold a money pot for any defensive player that would send a player off injured. I just remembered the hits on Favre and could see the intention. The ironman retired having started in 321 consecutive games. One of the greatest records in all of sports. How he handled his pain killer addiction and the game he played just hours after his fathers death will always be two of his most inspiring acts for me. He couldn’t miss a pass against the Oakland Raiders. He was on a different level than everyone else on that Monday night, throwing for 399 yards and 4 touchdowns. He was playing to honor his father who was also his high school coach. In high school they ran a ‘wishbone'(Run heavy) offense. Favre rarely threw more than 5 passes a game despite having that rocket arm. I think that says much about his father Irvine and gives us a bit of insight into how he was brought up to be who he was as a player and person.
When Mahomes was drafted to the Kansas City Chiefs, Alex Smith understood that the club hadn’t spent much in draft capital on the Quarterback position since he’d been there and he mentioned this in an interview. I thought that was such a great way to look at it. He understands the business. He understands from his own adversity how it all works. How an organization makes decisions from a business standpoint over a personal one. Let’s remember that Smith had a honorary invite to mensa after acing the wonderlic IQ test at the combine. So, He’s highly intelligent. His sister was working under first lady Michelle Obama during President Obama’s terms in office. Alex got to visit them there during his bye week a few seasons ago. I have no doubt that he could be a politician. He could retire from Football and be a lawyer tomorrow if he chose. His mother pushed hard for him to attend Harvard after high school but his path took him to Utah and offensive head coach Urban Meyer. That was the only scholarship offer he received other than Louisville which he doesn’t count as his uncle was the offensive coach there. Despite all this, he was still the first player taken in the 2005 NFL draft but as the first overall pick we knew that he was going to a struggling team.
When Colin Kaepernick was drafted as the Jim Harbaugh era began in San Francisco Alex had the option to treat him as Favre treated Rogers. He also had this option when Patrick Mahomes was drafted this year. In both cases he’s done the opposite. In both cases he’s put his arm around the rookie and taught them what to look out for. Warned them of the pit falls a rookie can experience both on and off the field. In the film room he’s been a teacher. In the locker room he’s been a best friend and mentor. In both cases he’s brought them along to take his job and for me that’s the classiest and most selfless act any athlete can project. He has the right to be selfish. He has the right not to be a team player but it’s just not in his DNA. This is why I’ve decided to write about him. He’s everything you want in a player right now. When Jim Harbaugh and the 49ers traded Alex away in 2013, he was considered by many to be a bust whilst Aaron Rogers had won a superbowl in Green Bay. It was Rogers who came into the NFL with a chip on his shoulder and he was now so much more successful. So, where did Alex go from there ?.. Enter Andy Reid and The Kansas City Chiefs…
Before the trade Andy Reid knew all about Alex from his friend and Utah offensive coordinator Kyle Whittingham and former head coach Urban Meyer who’d gone on from Utah to win a national championship with Florida and Tim Tebow. They said he had everything needed to be great and a skill set that was liked to a few Quarterbacks that Reid had success with in Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick and Jeff Garcia in Philadelphia. They had all played really well under his tutelage. Reid came from Philadelphia after a history of falling just short of a championship. They dominated the NFC for years but fell short in the Superbowl against the New England Patriots. Reid had suffered some personal problems and the team seemed to be at a loss so owner Jeffery Lurie let him go. When he came to Kansas City the organization was in need of a makeover as were Reid and Alex Smith. I thought that when they came in together, they could both help revive each others career and so far they’ve done that. They were so close last year and I wonder if Reid is concerned about repeating his legacy in Philadelphia of always falling short. He never put this pressure on Donovan McNabb. He never drafted a Quarterback in the 1st round whilst he was there. He’d always draft in the trenches.
I believe that Alex Smith can take this team where it needs to go. I think the class he’s shown to Patrick Mahomes is incredible but I think he’s mature enough to win a superbowl now. He’s started the season 4-0. In week 1 he went into Gillette Stadium in Foxboro against Tom Brady and beat the world champion New England Patriots behind a great running attack led by other great rookie prospect Kareem Hunt. In week 2 he beat a good Philadelphia Eagles team led by talanted Quarterback Carson Wentz at home in Arrowhead. In week 3 he beat Philip Rivers and the LA Chargers and in week 4 on Monday night football he made some incredible throws and runs in the clutch to beat a very good Washington Redskins which has a solid defense under coordinator Greg Manusky and defensive line coach Jim Tomsula. He’s just a different player this season. He’s playing some incredible football. He’s throwing differently. He’s hitting deep targets. He has a rocket man in Tyreek Hill who’d give Usain Bolt a sleepless night. He has a great running back in rookie Kareem Hunt. Hunt’s taring the field up in his first few games. He’s playing every game like it’s his last and playing with less care than I’ve seen from him during his career. He’s playing like he doesn’t give a damn. He’s playing like a gunslinger and I love it. He’s just an amazing person and I love his story. I really want him to succeed. He’ll be legendary for me if he wins a Superbowl with Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. Everything he’s endured comes down to this. All the adversity is put into every pass. All the rejection into every call and his offensive line is ready to fight for him just like he does for them on every play. He has a great Tight end in Travis Kelce who’s become like his brother off the field. Kelce is his main target right now with receivers Albert Wilson and Chris Conley picking up some catches. Wilson made a huge play to get open on their final drive Monday night. I just feel like Alex Smith’s time has come. Follow his season with the same interest as I have and wish this guy well because he thoroughly deserves it.
By Rhodri Jones