Alex Smith’s incredible recovery from life-threatening leg injuries is one of the all-time great NFL comeback stories. But Washington Football Team head coach Ron Rivera recently gave some surprising thoughts on what happened.
At his press conference on Wednesday, Rivera addressed an interview Smith did with GQ where he said that the team didn’t really want him back from his injury. The Washington head coach admitted that he couldn’t completely disagree with Smith’s assessment.
Rivera admitted that while he was glad to have Smith back, he was very concerned that he might get hurt again. He said that he “struggled with that every day” as Smith continued to play.
“To be quite honest with you, I don’t disagree with a lot of things that he said. I really don’t,” Rivera said. “I said, ‘Alex, I’ll be honest, I was scared to death. I didn’t know what to expect.’ Which I believe he appreciated, was [me] just telling him how I felt — how hard it was for us,” Rivera said. “I think that’s the thing that everybody forgets, is Alex did a great job. He worked his butt off to put himself in position to come back and play.
“But I said, there’s a part that people don’t understand and that’s we — as a coaching staff — had to look through this and think through this. And it was always in the back of my head, what if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg — that specific leg — again? I’m going to be the guy that put him back on the field and let him get hurt again. So I told him, I fought with that, struggled with that every day.”
Ron Rivera had good reason to be worried for Alex Smith. The former No. 1 overall pick suffered multiple breaks that required over a dozen surgeries to fix and sidelined him for a year-and-a-half.
It honestly would have been more shocking if Rivera didn’t express concerns for Smith.
But Smith not only played, he played well enough for Rivera to win the NFC East title in his first year at the helm.
Though their time working together was brief, Ron Rivera and Alex Smith did good work together.