Alex Smith will always be one of Chiefs Kingdom’s favorite players as one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play for the franchise. Not only did he help restore the Chiefs to respectability in his first few years under Andy Reid, but he also helped turn the team into a perennial playoff contender with a dynamic offense with a stellar final season under center with MVP-esque numbers at times.
Beyond his on-field production for the Chiefs, Smith is remembered as a hero throughout Kansas City for his community work and his leadership—the sort of trait that made him a favorite of his teammates and coaches. It was also those traits that allowed him to handle what could have been an incredibly dramatic situation with such wisdom and grace—when the Chiefs first drafted Patrick Mahomes in 2017.
In a recent interview with Kyle Brandt, Smith recently spoke about a number of subjects related to his career in K.C., his career-threatening injury, and more. The entire episode is worth a listen (click here) but you can watch a quick clip below to hear the perspective of a player who was truly great on and off the field. In this clip, Smith is asked about Mahomes’ rookie season and what it was like to watch him develop:
“…toward the end of that year, he started doing a lot. You could tell he had started to really settle in with the pro game and was really getting comfortable and confident—seeing things and making throws. He would start doing the no-look stuff then in practice as a rookie. He would no-look slants and no-look balls in there, and he would hit them. He would hit them a lot. It wasn’t like he was some fluke thing.
“I think you could see the game slow down for him. He had such good vision. You could tell he had ‘it.’ Certainly the end of that year in practice, you could continually see him make throws that were like, ‘That was pretty sweet.’”
As for the potential tension between them, the Chiefs really pulled off a monumental effort in grabbing the rookie that they needed while also honoring the veteran who was already in place. It helped that communication was clear on all sides, and it likely also aided the process to have a veteran head coach like Andy Reid sort of shepherding everything along. But it’s also very clear that the demeanor and humility of both quarterbacks played a major part in allowing the Chiefs to remain successful and avoid any sort of dramatic controversy in 2017. Here’s what Alex Smith had to say:
“For me at that point, I felt like I was in such a good place in the sense that I knew—when you’re that far into your career, I was in my 13th year, it’s a one-year audition at a time. If you’re not good enough, they’re going to go find someone else whether it’s through the draft or free agency or whatever. For me, I just needed to do what I needed to do. Part of that was not worrying about obviously Pat or anybody else. I needed to go down my path and continue to focus on that.”
Of course, Smith went on to sign a lucrative four-year deal to be the Washington Football Team’s quarterback in the next stage of his career before facing his greatest test yet just 10 games into his stint in the nation’s capital, when a spiral fracture of his leg not only threatened his career but his life as infection began to set in and require subsequent procedures. Smith’s remarkable comeback two years later earned him the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year earlier this month.