It’s Vikings week, and what a surprise, players are making comments in the media trying to add fuel to the fire. In just two days, the Green Bay Packers will open the 2022 Regular Season against the Minnesota Vikings. When Aaron Rodgers looks over the line at the Vikings defense, he will see the familiar face of former Packers Linebacker, Za’Darius Smith. Smith has not been shy to say that he went to the Vikings, because he wants revenge for some reason, on the Packers.
So, where’s the beef? Why the hostility? Packer nation definitely fell in love with Smith’s energy and his sack celebrations as he became a fan favorite immediately in his first season after being signed as a Free Agent. Many were disappointed to see him sidelined for about 90% of his third season with the team due to a back injury and were sad to see him depart for Free Agency but were prepared for his very-likely absence in 2022. Again, so why the anger and supposed revenge tour? Well, Z decided to very conveniently make that reason known this week.
On Wednesday, a story released where Za’Darius Smith completely bad-mouthed the Packers, saying they made him “feel like a nobody” after his injury. Smith went on to claim that the Packers weren’t asking him how he was doing. That nobody really seemed to care where he was in his path to recovery from his back surgery. Sounds like a whole lot of whining for a guy that later in the interview went on to advertise himself as a fierce competitor.
Basically, it seems to me that Za’Darius Smith feels he deserved weekly, if not daily chat sessions on his recovery, and that if he came across anyone in passing, they were supposed to ask him how his rehab was. He apparently wanted constant attention, and he didn’t get it, so he’s very upset. With that approach, it appears to me that Smith has a lot in common with my two sons. But in my sons’ defense, they’re 2 and 1 years old. Smith just turned 30 yesterday… When Head Coach Matt LaFleur was approached on the topic, he went on to say he “respected the crap out of Z as a player” and that they may have a different perspective of how things transpired. People can see things differently, it happens. But then, Za’Darius Smith then went on to state that he “created the Packers culture”
Excuse me what? Did this guy that only technically played for two years just say he created the culture of a 103-year-old football franchise? Okay sure, he might have been implying he created a new locker room culture in the last few years, but even that is not his to claim. When Mike McCarthy departed and Matt LaFleur entered the building, the Packers locker room definitely became a much looser atmosphere where players could have a little more fun and freedom. At the same time, three big free agents were brought in on defense. Preston Smith and Adrian Amos were brought in alongside Za’Darius Smith and were tasked with helping turn around the Packers Defense. Some new, experienced blood, along with LaFleur’s new culture definitely helped re-shape this Packers team. But the Packers don’t owe Za’Darius Smith anything. These comments from Smith, honestly deserve to just be ignored as it appears Smith’s “like a brother” best friend Preston Smith, is already perfectly capable of doing.
Something doesn’t quite add up with this whole situation. After two seasons of being elected a Captain on Defense, Za’Darius Smith was not elected a Packers Captain in his third season. Captains are mostly player-elected. You don’t just go two years a captain and then not get elected captain your third season for no reason. There again is another area that Smith was a little sore about. Something tells me there’s a little more to this situation than we know about. Perhaps the Packers are electing to take the high road and not diving further into it. Honestly, they don’t need to, it’s just another sore player believing they deserved better than they got and running to the one team that absolutely loves them some former Packers, the Minnesota Vikings.
Whether Za’Darius Smith is justified in his words or not, as a former Packers player, don’t slander the Packers while wearing a Vikings uniform. That just gets you a quick trip to the garbage can. Besides, the Packers aren’t going to miss you. Especially when we have a much better replacement for you, ready to take advantage of you not being on the roster…
Greg Meinholz is a 24/7/365 Packers fan. When he’s not spending time with his family, he can be found meditating in his Packers shrine with a good beer. You can follow him on twitter at @gmeinholz.