Former Green Bay Packers pass-rusher Za'Darius Smith signed a with the rival Minnesota Vikings this offseason. When players sign with former rivals, it's not always personal. The NFL is a business, and players could end up with franchises they never dreamed of playing for at one point. For Smith, however, his decision to sign with the Vikings was very personal.
Smith began his NFL career with the Baltimore Ravens, but it's with the Packers where he found his greatest success. After signing with the team following the 2018 season, he recorded 13.5 sacks in 2019 and 12.5 sacks in 2020 while earning two Pro Bowl bids and All-Pro honors. However, things went south in 2021.
Smith suffered a back injury in the offseason and played in just the season opener vs. the New Orleans Saints before making the decision to undergo surgery. He didn't return until the postseason, and then was released in March.
In an interview with Tyler Dunne of Go Long, Smith said he's very upset with how his tenure with Green Bay ended, and that he specifically signed with the Vikings so he can enact revenge on the Packers.
"Walking past me not saying nothing. 'Z, how's your back doing?' -- there was none of that," Smith said (h/t Pro Football Talk). "As you can see, that adds on to why I'm on the other side. So, I can go back. I get to go back two times a year. ... I put my back on the f---ing line. I put everything. And that year three, 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 for that revenge opportunity, as the Vikings kick off the 2022 regular season this Sunday at home vs. the Packers. Dunne wrote that Smith will be the one delivering the pregame speech -- something he's been preparing for months now.