Smith, who spent his first four seasons in Washington, was recently asked his thoughts on playing the upcoming NFL season with little-to-no fans in the stands due to the COVID-19 pandemic and couldn’t resist the opportunity to troll his former team in a hilarious way.
“It’s going to be kind of different getting used to not playing with a lot of fans like this past year, but my first four years in the league, there weren’t that many fans in the stadium anyway,” Smith joked with reporters during Friday’s video press conference. “So it might be kind of normal now again.”
The Packers announced Thursday they would no longer be hosting fans at Lambeau Field for the team’s first two home games in 2020 in response to the novel coronavirus, meaning an empty stadium awaits them in their Week 2 home opener against the Detroit Lions and Week 4’s prime-time showdown with the Atlanta Falcons for Monday Night Football.
Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy said the team has not yet made a decision on whether fans will be allowed to attend any of their remaining six home games, as their third home game isn’t scheduled until the start of November, but he also clarified the status of the pandemic around the country will determine how they proceed.
“Playing without fans this year, it’s going to be really different, but it’s something we’ve got to get used to,” Smith elaborated. “We want to be safe, we want to have a safe environment so we can keep football going on this year and for years to come because we don’t how long this pandemic is going to last. We want the fans to be here, but it’s the NFL. They’re working on ways for them to produce a safer environment for them to be and be involved.”
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Smith Says Washington Name Change ‘Just Made Sense’
The offseason hasn’t been kind to Washington between damning reports of sexual misconduct within the organization and their still-in-progress efforts to rebrand under an (undecided) new name. This all came after Washington fired its team president, Bruce Allen, after a decade on the job in D.C. and replaced Jay Gruden with Ron Rivera as head coach.
Smith said he wasn’t aware of the instances of sexual misconduct during his four years in Washington, but the name change is something he considers a sign of progress.
“That’s the way the world is going now in being politically correct in a lot of senses,” Smith told reporters when asked about the pending name change. “The name stood for something else, and with everything going on it just made sense to do the right thing.”
Smith Bros. Joint Interviews Put on Hold
Packers fans and reporters alike have grown accustomed to hearing from both Za’Darius and Preston Smith whenever they speak with the media, but the star pass rushers will be restricted to solo appearances for the foreseeable future under the new normal of COVID-19 limitations.
No more Smith bros interviews‼️ 😢
— Za'Darius Smith (@TheRealZSmith) August 6, 2020
The Smith Bros. became a popular pair in 2019 during their first season together in Green Bay, sitting together at their lockers with media after practices and games and taking every opportunity to make the mundane interview more exciting. It also helped that they were wildly successful on the football field, tallying a combined 25 1/2 sacks and becoming the first Packers pass rushers to post at least a dozen sacks apiece since 1982.
“(We’re) going to turn it up a level this season,” Preston Smith said Friday. “Last year was our first time in this new system, first time playing together, getting comfortable in this system. We learned each other pretty fast. We mixed well together on the field. It’s like we know each other so well out there on the field, that’s what makes us play so well together.”