Texans GM Rick Smith takes leave of absence after wife diagnosed with breast cancer

HOUSTON – Texans Executive Vice President and General Manager Rick Smith discussed his extended leave of absence from the Texans on Monday following the Texans' season-ending loss to the Colts on Sunday.

Smith released a statement on Sunday, explaining he was focusing his attention on his wife’s complete recovery from her recent diagnosis of breast cancer. 

Smith’s wife, Tiffany, was with him as he discussed what they have dealt with since September when, during a routine checkup, the cancer was discovered.

“At the end of September, she was diagnosed,” Smith said.

“As we started to learn about cancer, there are all kinds of ways to deal with cancer and beat cancer. As we learned about ways to beat this, we found a place, a clinic, in Arizona and we decided to go there."

“When we got the diagnosis, we (football operations) had a meeting and I said,  ‘I am going to be distracted and that is just the case, that’s just human nature. So I am going to need you to step up your game, because we need you,' and they did,” Smith said.

“To try to be there for her in Arizona and with our three kids here in three different schools and do this job, the logistics of it, it’s very difficult.”

The plan is for him to take a complete year away from the team, and he described the situation as fluid as to how and when he would return.

“I am going to maintain (the) executive vice president title; if we hire a GM (general manager) and have a guy to run the personnel, then we’ll do that,” Smith said. 

“I am absolutely intent on coming back. If Mr. McNair feels like he needs to hire a general manager then he will do that.”

Smith also briefly addressed the rumors of his strained relationship with head coach Bill O’Brien.

“Bill and I have worked together for four years with a common goal to bring a championship to Houston,” Smith said. “As Bill has told you, we have a great working relationship and we continue to do that.

“That’s another reason why this is a decision that I can make. I can move away from here, knowing that the organization is in good hands.”