Jan 30, 2013, 6:45 PM EST
Let’s say that you’ve been saving your money every day since you were 13 years old so that you could buy a car when you turned 16. You had the cash stored in a large cigar box beneath your bed — money from your paper route; wadded singles from mowing countless lawns; loose change begged from relatives … not just yours — everybody’s relatives.
And finally the big day is almost here, and you’ve got about three grand saved up — enough for a decent used car, once your parents match it (you’ve not only videotaped that promise, but posted it on YouTube). But about two months before your birthday, your parents call you in to the living room for a talk.
DAD: “We know you’ve done all the right things and saved your money and worked really hard, and this family appreciates all of your efforts.”
MOM: “You were the big reason our Christmas card photo was so successful this year.”
DAD: “Yes, you’ve been a terrific son. But, well, your brother is 18, and he doesn’t have a car. And he’s a much better driver than you, and …”
MOM: “What your father is trying to say is, your brother is getting the car.”
DAD: “It’s for the good of the family — we know you’ll understand. (Takes cigar box from son, opens it, withdraws a five-dollar bill). “Here. Buy yourself something nice.”
Your reaction might be similar to that of Manti Te’o's when he discovered his girlfriend wasn’t real, or perhaps this cat.
Or maybe you’d feel just like Alex Smith.
If Smith’s life were a movie poster, the copy would look something like this: The record-setting quarterback who got injured. The injured quarterback who became a backup. The backup who reached the Super Bowl. From Billboard to Clipboard: The Alex Smith Story.
Alex Smith did all the interviews at Super Bowl Media Day and said all the right things, because Alex Smith is a good soldier. But he’s a lonely soldier — standing on the sideline holding a (football/teddy bear: pick one) as Colin Kaepernick calls signals and sprints about the field in the playoffs.
Ah, Kaepernick. How big is he? People at a Modesto, CA, bakery are working around the clock at this very hour making dozens of Kaepernick arm cakes to meet the high demand. And people throughout the nation are Kaepernicking (that’s kissing one’s bicep), and getting Kaepernick tattoos, as the 49ers prepare to meet the Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII. But shouldn’t this be Smith’s time? Shouldn’t fans be baking Smith body parts? Shouldn’t everyone be Smithing? I’m not even sure what that would be, and I guess we’ll never know.
Our story so far: Smith led the 49ers to the NFC Championship Game last season, and through no fault of his, the Niners lost to the Giants. He then had them on a 7-2 roll this season, including a win in the opener with the Packers. His 18-of-19 passing performance against the Cardinals was one completion short of the NFL single-game completion percentage record, and he was leading the league in overall season percentage. He also set a team record for most passes without an interception.
But in San Francisco, that kind of resume gets you fired.
Smith suffered a concussion against the Rams, and you know what happened after that. Bobcat Goldthwait has a line that sums it up perfectly:
“I lost my job the other day. Well, I didn’t lose it exactly, I know where it is. It’s just that when I go in they have someone else doing it.”
Smith signed a three-year, $24 million contract on March 20. If he’s still on the roster on April 1, he’d get his full 2013 base salary of $7.5 million. That seems way high for a backup these days.
So it’s hard to know exactly what Alex Smith is feeling right now, because this kind of move is unprecedented. Previously in the NFL, and in all of pro sports, really, you were only replaced if you either didn’t play well, or were too hurt to continue. Of course there’s always the occasional violation of the morals clause in your contract, but we won’t go into that because it doesn’t apply.
But Smith recovered from his concussion, dutifully got a doctor’s note, and returned to the field to play quarterback — only to find out that someone else was doing it. Kaepernick was named the starter and Smith was pistol-optioned out the door. Smith has said he doesn’t care for the situation (most telling comment: “This sucks.”). But that’s not exactly a tantrum. Terrell Owens doesn’t even get out of bed in the morning for a complaint as benign as that.
Not only have his complaints been weak and uninspired, but Smith has actually helped Kaepernick get up to speed in the NFL. Jim Harbaugh said that Smith actually has been coaching Kaepernick more than he has.
As for reports that Smith wants to be released by the 49ers, he has “no idea where that came from.” (see video above). He’s saying all the right things, but is that how he really feels? It can’t be. So it’s up to me to figure out what’s really going on in his mind right now. I think there are two possibilities:
1. He’s going to kill all his enemies with kindness. This is the passive-aggressive approach that is a favorite with many: I’ll make you feel so guilty that you’ll hurl yourself out a ninth-floor window when you realize what you’ve done to me. Most of us can relate, after all. Think of all the times you’ve been unfairly passed over; the times you’ve done exemplary work for little or no reward; the times you’ve been overlooked, mocked and abused. They didn’t give you a chance! And when they did, you shined — until you were pushed aside for someone younger and cheaper. And the really pretty girl went out with that other guy because he had all the money.
Well, Alex Smith wants to be your patron saint. He has suffered the slings and arrows of seven different offensive coordinators over seven seasons. You didn’t get that promotion at work, even though you were the most qualified? Alex feels you pain. He will suffer for you.
2. He’s secretly plotting to take over the world. He hides his true emotions, and he hides them well. By this time next year he’ll be the starting quarterback of the Cleveland Browns … or better yet, the Jets. And he’ll be in the Super Bowl, playing the (spins wheel) Packers, and the final score is Jets 70, Packers 3, and Mike McCarthy will say “I should have traded Rodgers for you, Alex! I’ve been a fool!”
Or maybe Smith will stick around — take a serious pay cut and remain the backup. Until the day, that is, that Kaepernick is injured in a suspicious therapy tub mishap in the team training room. Why was Kaepernick there at that particular time, and why was the tub’s temperature gauge turned to “explode”? The answers are shrouded in mystery.
But one thing is clear: Alex Smith is once again the starter for your San Francisco 49ers.
Perhaps it won’t be a hot tub explosion, but life is rough in the NFL, and Kaepernick is bound to get hurt sometime. Maybe even this Sunday. And when that happens, Alex Smith — old reliable, the Patron Saint of the Overlooked — will be ready to go in and save the day.
Then you’ll all be sorry, and you’ll want to apologize to Alex. But you’ll have to wait your turn, because someone else is doing it.
Mar 31, 2013, 10:37 AM EST
Since this will be the final post in the history of Off The Bench, I feel that this post can’t just be a simple post about an NFL player buying segways for his teammates or an improbable buzzer beater from a high school basketball game. I’d like to echo the sentiments that Rick featured in…
Mar 31, 2013, 7:13 AM EST
As Opening Day of Major League Baseball is just around the corner, Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Cole Hamels will be getting the starting nod against the Atlanta Braves. If you have been following the Phillies during spring training, you might have noticed that Hamels has been growing a rather impressive mustache. Below are just some photos…
Mar 30, 2013, 12:16 PM EST
Back in 2012, Vanderbilt University’s baseball team pulled off a successful triple steal in a game against Florida in the SEC Tournament. Earlier this week, Vanderbilt pulled off that rare feat again in a non-conference game against Lipscomb University. With runners on first and second, Commodore manager Tim Corbin called for the steal and before…
Mar 30, 2013, 9:04 AM EST
Back on Tuesday, the United States men’s soccer team traveled to Azteca Stadium to face Mexico in a World Cup Qualifying match. After the match ended in a draw, a group of happy United States fans celebrated the 0-0 score in the upper deck of the Azteca. As chants of USA got louder and louder,…
Mar 28, 2013, 8:00 AM EST
In case you haven’t heard, Easter Sunday is the final day of Off the Bench: this blog will cease operations as of 11:59 p.m. on that date. So the day after March 31, there will be no new posts on this blog. The timing is fine: I see no reason people would wake the next…
Mar 27, 2013, 3:19 PM EST
So the Miami Heat have won 27 straight, and have an excellent chance of breaking the NBA record for consecutive wins, 33, set by the 1971-72 Los Angeles Lakers. Here’s a pretty good breakdown comparing the two teams. But if you’re like me, it’s not enough to know that Thor and Hercules were both very…
Mar 26, 2013, 2:35 PM EST
Life as a lesser Belushi can be frustrating at times, I’d imagine: even though you occasionally get to be in films like Trading Places and be married to Courtney Thorne-Smith. Also you get to participate in Shoot-the-Puck contests at Chicago Blackhawks games. Jim Belushi was born in Chicago, so I sure hope he makes this…
Mar 25, 2013, 5:39 PM EST
If you’re a fan of vintage tennis posters — or, you know, hot chicks — the you may be familiar with ‘Tennis Girl’. That’s the photo of 18-year-old Fiona Butler showing her mostly bare backside, shot by her boyfriend, Martin Elliott, and made into an iconic, best-selling poster in the 1970s. Lauren Davis of the…
Mar 25, 2013, 9:00 AM EST
But that’s not even the most incredible part of this story. Iram Leon, 32, won the 2013 Gusher Marathon in Beaumont, Texas on Saturday despite the fact that he has terminal brain cancer. He ran the entire race while pushing his 6-year-old daughter Kiana in a stroller, winning with a time of in 3:07:36. That’s…
Mar 24, 2013, 3:38 PM EST
Honestly, I didn’t think that a statue of a horned frog would scare me but the latest edition to the TCU football stadium might cause me to look under my bed for the next couple of days. On Saturday, TCU unveiled the newest edition to Amon G. Carter Stadium as a bronzed horned frog will…
Mar 24, 2013, 10:55 AM EST
There might not be a individual in sports known for his wacky fashion sense than Turner Sports sideline reporter Craig Sager. Over the years, Craig has provided the world and a bunch of NBA players cannon-fodder for his strange color combinations and for those of you who think that Craig just wears those zany outfits…
Mar 24, 2013, 8:33 AM EST
At almost every college/professional basketball game these days, one lucky fan is brought out onto the court to win some sort of cash or prize by making a number of shots or a half-court shot. For most, the pressure is pretty high but for one Serbian basketball fan attending an Adriatic League basketball game between KK Igokea…
Mar 23, 2013, 1:45 PM EST
After playing together for Team USA in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, it appears that Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips became fast friends with Boston Red Sox outfielder Shane Victorino. Back on Friday night, Phillips took to his Twitter account to show off a pair of size 6.5 Louboutin sneakers that he bought for…
Mar 23, 2013, 10:55 AM EST
Over the last couple of years, it appears that college athletic programs have been trying to one up each other in trying to create the most creative-looking football field or basketball courts. Back on Wednesday, Florida International men’s basketball coach Richard Pitino revealed the latest possible crazy basketball court design on his Twitter account. The…
Mar 23, 2013, 10:09 AM EST
Over in Atwood, IL, all systems are go for a fundraiser in which an AR-15 rifle — the same type used in two recent school massacres — will be raffled off to benefit the local youth baseball league. According to the people involved this is all perfectly kosher, and one lucky fan will be heavily…
Mar 23, 2013, 8:35 AM EST
While it’s normal for soccer goalies to come up on corner kicks to create an extra attacker, it isn’t normal for them to take motorcycle rides back to their own goal. Sadly, there isn’t a whole lot of information about the below video except for the fact that it occurs during a soccer match on…
Mar 22, 2013, 6:46 PM EST
Bigger gathering of villainy: the cantina in Mos Eisly spaceport, or Harvard University? The basketball team may be riding high right now, but things are not going so swell back on campus. This past August Harvard officials announced that 125 students were under investigation for allegedly cheating on a take-home test. And now, Harvard has…
Mar 22, 2013, 4:22 PM EST
Don’t those dual hair parts kind of resemble devil horns? Isn’t his trash-talking style kind of evil? Is his shot selection from the pit of hell? Yes, yes and yes. Every good story needs an antagonist, and the NCAA Basketball Tournament has theirs in Mississippi guard Marshall Henderson. What we have here is not exactly…
Mar 21, 2013, 4:12 PM EST
Anybody wondering what Andre the Giant would have been like as a college basketball player, look no further than Sim Bhullar — New Mexico State’s 7-foot-5, 360-pound freshman from Toronto. Bhullar, the tallest player in college basketball, has 85 blocked shots and led the WAC in field goal percentage at 63.2 percent. Hey, it’s not…
Mar 20, 2013, 3:45 PM EST
This video proves once again that great champions are made to order, not born. The Allen Americans of the Central Hockey League, a Double-A affiliate of the Dallas Stars, had their Fourth Annual McDonald’s Night at Allen Event Center in Allen, TX, recently. This of course called for McDonald’s-themed uniforms (later auctioned for charity), but…
- So long folks, it’s time for me to take off 18
- Man wins full marathon while pushing his daughter in a baby stroller (video) 14
- Lock and load, it’s youth baseball fundraising time: league raffling off AR-15 rifle (video) 8
- Sim Bhullar is a large basketball player, and I mean it. Anybody want a peanut? 0
- What’s with kids and all these death-defying stunts? 674
- Nothing to see here…just a 70-yard field goal by a high-schooler (video) 3
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