Photo: Chuck Cook USA Today Sports
St. Joseph, MO – If you’d had been at Alex Smith’s press conference on Tuesday, you knew questions would arise about Friday’s exhibition opponent. And it so happens, the Chiefs will be facing Smith’s old team the San Francisco 49ers. So what does this game really mean for KC’s new quarterback?
In covering my beloved Kansas City Chiefs the last decade or so, I tend to gravitate to the story behind the story. Don’t get me wrong, X’s and O’s I understand. But the heart of a player and what makes him tick is where I enjoy my free space as a writer.
So when, Alex Smith, played it coy in the bombardment of questions he faced in anticipation of playing the San Francisco 49ers at Arrowhead Friday night, I knew this game did indeed mean more to him then he was letting on to the media.
No I wasn’t a Psychology major in college (Theatre and Drama if you crave that answer). So as I stood watching KC’s new quarterback talk about the 49ers game, I could sense a mild simmer in recalling what he faced a year ago. For those that missed the ire of that slow boil, Smith was benched after an injury, lost his job to a younger model and didn’t play a snap in last years Super Bowl.
So forgive me, if I sensed the underlying boil.
Now that’s not a knock on Smith. In fact, I’d be worried had he reacted any other way but with class. Still when he was pressed by a local reporter about a quote he made about seeking revenge on his old team in a column that appeared in the NY Times, he answered like a seasoned politician.
“No, it was not directed at them at all,” Smith stated. “I think just in general. Over the years some of the things you go through, doubters and things like that, it builds up. Those guys gave me an opportunity. They have given me a couple of opportunities over the years there, Coach (Jim) Harbaugh and that crew, especially over the last couple of years. Obviously, we disagreed with what happened last year, but you move on from it. So, no that was not solely directed to them at all.”
To his credit, Smith has moved on. He’s in a different NFL city, has new teammates and a talented coaching staff that will make sure they design an offense that fits his talents.
That’s a good thing because, despite his words on Tuesday, Smith still has a chip on his shoulder that should carry him to succeed, not only Friday night against his old mates, but into the regular season. That edge should keep him hungry.
Still the real games don’t begin for a month and for now Smith is more focused on getting ready for the regular season and facing Jacksonville in the season opener. However, the media (including yours truly) knows this game is important to KC’s quarterback.
“I think the biggest thing is that we’re still in camp mode and still installing. The other thing is that regardless that I used to play there, they are a good defensive unit. It will be a good test for us. They are a really good defensive unit. Not many weaknesses on that side of the ball, so it will be a good test for us.”
Again that’s the perfect answer for Smith because there really isn’t a need (unless it’s a slow sports day in KC) to rehash what happened to him a year ago in a 49ers uniform.
Because what is truly important for Smith is the fact we we’ve all ignored he’s going to make his Kansas City debut on Friday night in front of the home fans at Arrowhead.
“I’m looking forward to it. I haven’t had the opportunity to get out there. I mean we practice right by it with the facility, but it will be a first time for me getting in it as a member of this organization. I’m really excited. I’m excited about the whole atmosphere.”
So perhaps it’s in our ‘best interest’ (yes I watched Breaking Bad on Sunday night), to dial back the Smith versus the 49ers aspect of Friday nights game. Instead we should dial up the pre-game BBQ grills in the parking lot and hope that the Chiefs play as solidly in the first half against the 49ers as they did in the first quarter against the New Orleans Saints.
And if they do, then perhaps nobody in the media will ask Smith about what it was like facing his old team and if revenge indeed tasted sweet or tasted bitter after the game on Friday.
Hmmm… Yeah right! Like that’s not going to be asked by someone in the media.
RB Jamaal Charles - The report by ESPN that indicated the injury to KC’s top offensive weapon was more severe than previously indicated, proved yet again - the national media isn’t up to date in Kansas City.
After practice on Tuesday, Head Coach Andy Reid, instructed team trainer, Rick Burkholder, to tell the media the exact nature of the Charles injury which put the entire Chiefs nation in a state of panic Monday morning.
In the aftermath of Burkholder’s comments, Charles has a strained foot and sore muscles up his leg attributed to doing nothing more than turning his ankle in practice a day earlier. So to be clear, his status is day to day, not week-to-week or month-to-month.
WARPAINT ILLUSTRATED MESSAGE BOARDS:
Does Alex Smith really care about facing his old coaching staff?
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