Funny, after leading his team to the NFC West division title, and doing it while working behind a fairly porous offensive line, getting the shit knocked out of him regularly, and hanging in there under usually a ton of pressure, Alex Smith is still percieved as a game manager by most of the wonks who comment on football. Even Trent Dilfer still says “he’s doing what they ask him to do.” What’s that, Trent? Win games? OK, gotcha. Nice point. Steve Mariucci, a guy who should know better, says much the same. Deion Sanders takes it even further, basically calling him worthless and lucky to be sniffing the playoffs. And if you ever want to hear a bunch of self-absorbed clowns who don’t seem to understand what they see on a day-to-day basis, listen to the NFL Network’s post game highlight show. Michael Irvin is truly clueless as well. Mooch is there as the comedy relief that the others (Sapp, Faulk, Dukes, Deion, and Irvin) don’t really pay attention to. Rich Eisen is fine, but the rest are way too emnamored with their own sweet selves.
Deion Sanders ‘loves” Stevie Johnson. Why? Because he’s a self-promoting WR who drops passes, concocts dumb-ass TD celebrations, and loses games for the Bills? Gotcha. It’s not how you play, it’s how you call attention to yourself. But Deion, who ‘smartly’ advised Michael Crabtree to hold out (for basically the same offer that was orignally on the table back in 2009), and lost Dez Bryant his senior year in college ball, all while working for the NFL Network, and thusly the NFL (conflict of interest there, guys?), merrily skates along talking nonsense and wreaking havoc on those around him.
You have to know that a lot of the animosity that surrounded Crabs and Alex Smith over the past couple seasons, and even this offseason (Crabs wouldn’t even acknowledge who his QB was this offseason) was fueled by Deion Sanders and his disdain for Alex Smith. I guess if you don’t all attention to yourself as a self-aggrandizing attention-seeking whore, you don’t get in Sanders’ good graces. Smith, to his ultimate credit, ignores all the bullshit swirling around him regarding the game manager tag, and all the negative hyperbole. When Justin Tuck called him a game manager before the Giants Niners game, saying, the Niners are “asking him not to lose games.” Well, he changed his tune after the Niners came back in the 4th quarter to beat the Giants. Lots of players who have faced him and lost now have a different opinion of him.
The comparisons to guys like Trent Dilfer (I don’t know Trent’s feelings on this) are flat ludicrous. Trent was barely tolerable as the QB of the defensively dominating Baltimore Ravens, but his numbers were shit. He’s nowhere near what Smith is doing this year. Dilfer was hurt half the year, and threw for 1,500 yards. 12 TDs and 11 INTs. He had and epically awful 76.6 QBR. That’s a game manager. A hand-off guy. Not a guy who has 15 TDs on 5 picks and a QBR of 94.9.
So, while he ingores the shitstorm swirling around him, Alex Smith quietly goes about his business of winning football games, and shutting down his detractors. His road to winning the division this year is a long and twisted one. One that HE directed on his own terms. From the thrill of coming in as the #1 pick in the NFL draft as a 20 year old back in 2005 to the crappy teams, the injuries, mismanagement, bad coaching, revolving door coaching staffs, and the idea that he would try to make things right HERE, taking a pay cut, restructuring his contract given the opportunities that he could have bailed due to outright fan anger toward him, and the chances that he could have split and toiled in animosity somewhere else all must make this particularly satisfying for him. He’s not going to be a guy that does any crazy touchdown celebrations, or infamously ask to have a monkey pulled from off his back, or even give a very compelling interview, but if ever there was a guy who deserves nothing but the utmost respect for the perserverence and dedication that he has shown the game and the people in it, it is Alex Smith.