Former Green Bay Packers linebacker Za’Darius Smith started every game for the team during the 2019 and 2020, earning Pro Bowl nods in each of the two seasons. But after his relationship with the team soured during the 2021 season, he signed with the division-rival Minnesota Vikings for a very simple reason: so he can get revenge twice a year.
After starring in the Green Bay defense for two seasons, Smith missed all but two games in 2021 after having back surgery, which he believes hurt his relationship with the team. The back surgery came after Smith got a second opinion from another doctor, presumably against the wishes of the team. After that, Smith told Tyler Dunne of Go Long that he became “a nobody” within the organization.
When the Packers ultimately released him in March, Smith kept his feelings about the Green Bay organization in mind when choosing his next team, telling Go Long that he signed with the Vikings so that he can face the Packers twice every season.
“I played one year of high school football,” Smith told Go Long. “For me to be where I’m at today, that’s how you know I love the game. I put my all into it. That’s why I felt the way I did with Green Bay — I gave that s*** my all. I put my blood, sweat… I put my back on the f***ing line. I put everything. And that Year 3, I was treated bad. That’s why I’m here now. So, I can play them twice a year.”
Smith won’t have to wait long. The Vikings open their season with a home matchup against the Packers on Sunday, marking the first of two matchups.