Shorty after the Houston Texans’ 2017 season ended Sunday, general manager Rick Smith announced that he’ll begin 2018 by taking an extended leave of absence from the team due to his wife’s recent breast cancer diagnosis.
He announced the decision in a statement:
Statement from Texans GM Rick Smith: pic.twitter.com/5fzvaYMD2G— Amy Palcic (@amypalcic) December 31, 2017
Smith is planning to take all of 2018 off. There’s no timetable beyond that.
Smith: this is an extended leave of absence. Will take a complete year off. Plan is fluid on when I return.— Drew Dougherty (@DoughertyDrew) January 1, 2018
According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Smith has spent much of the 2017 season tending to his wife while she undergoes treatments in Arizona.
Smith has been the general manager for the franchise since 2006 and was elevated to an additional role as executive vice president in 2012. His leave of absence comes after a difficult 4-12 season for the Texans that brought rumors of a “toxic” relationship between Smith and coach Bill O’Brien.
With reports that one or both were in danger of getting fired, NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport said one possible solution was for Smith to take a position within the franchise out of football operations and ceding more roster control to O’Brien.
Smith said that he intends to return to the team in some capacity, but will leave it up to team owner Bob McNair to decide what his role will be:
Smith "I'm going to maintain executive VP title. I intend on coming back. If Mr. McNair hires a general manager, that's up to him."— John McClain (@McClain_on_NFL) January 1, 2018
Smith: "This isn't a referendum on my tenure, because my tenure is not over."— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) January 1, 2018
Smith’s priorities are understandably and appropriately elsewhere with his wife undergoing treatment, so handing personnel control to someone else may be a sound decision for all involved with the Texans.