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Ron Rivera claims team parted ways with Alex Smith due to worries about him reinjuring himself

Ron Rivera continues to show that he’s a players’ coach, both on and off the field.

Rivera may not be the “rah-rah,” cheerleader type of players’ coach, such as Robert Saleh or Sean McVay, but his guys would run through a wall for him. He’s developed a reputation for getting the most out of his players, which was on display in 2015, when he took a nearly-undefeated Panthers team to the Super Bowl. And had a few breaks gone Carolina’s way, his squad may have knocked off Peyton Manning and emerged victorious.

That’s why Rivera was the perfect candidate to reverse course and re-establish culture in Washington. It was a huge challenge to take on, given the mess left by former team president Bruce Allen, and to a lesser extent, Jay Gruden. There wasn’t much accountability, and it seemed like players were showing up to get paid, rather than compete.

But that hasn’t been the case with Rivera, who took Washington to the playoffs for the first time since 2015. He’s built the trust of his players, and has gone to bat for them when the situation arises, like when he was asked about releasing former quarterback Alex Smith.

“It was always in the back of my head. What if he gets hurt again? What if he hurts that leg, that specific leg?” Rivera said, via Yahoo Sports. “I don’t want to be the guy that put him back on the field to let him get hurt again. I told him: ‘I fought with that, struggled with that every day. Every day.”

Rivera’s answer sure sounded good on paper, but the reality is that the NFL is a business. Smith has had issues with durability, and the Football Team wasn’t looking to pay $23.3 million for a 36-year-old veteran quarterback. It simply did not make sense for them, from a team building standpoint. And there’s nothing wrong with saying that.