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Ron Rivera Was 'Scared'; Alex Smith Was 'Pissed'; A Sad Washington Ending

Smith felt like he had full clearance to to play; the WFT had some hesitation. These facts, for some, are difficult to accept

It really should not have to be remembered this way. It really should not even be this way at all.

But it may be this way - one side "scared'' and one side "pissed'' forever.

Smith, who just announced his NFL retirement, was recently recognized as the Comeback Player of the Year for his miraculous recovery from a devastating leg injury - and his stunning and successful return to the field as a quarterback who helped lead the Washington Football Team to the playoffs last season.

But along the path?

Smith tells SI.com he found Washington’s coaches “patronizing,” and that coach Ron Rivera's careful handling of the situation "pissed me off.''

Smith felt like he had full clearance to to play; the WFT had some hesitation.

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Washington's Rivera acknowledges is willing to admit something even beyond that.

“I was scared to death about putting (Smith) back out there and that is something I struggled with every day,” Rivera said. “It’s unfortunate that he feels we patronized him because I can tell you that was not our intention. At the end of the day, I commend Alex because he proved everyone wrong and exceeded any reasonable expectations that anyone had set for him. He not only made it back onto the field but led us to the playoffs. It was a truly remarkable feat.”

That is the way the Smith/Rivera encounter should be remembered: As something remarkable. In fairness to Rivera, we now know that this offseason, other teams passed on signing on Smith because his leg still isn't completely right.

And in fairness to Smith? His competitive nature - which is apparently shared by his father Doug, who believes Alex was "sabotaged'' by the WFT - is what drove his comeback. That he remains competitive even when recalling his doubters should not surprise.

But it's still sad.

READ MORE: Rivera says Ryan Fitzpatrick Is No. 1 QB for Washington