After 12 seasons as the Texans general manager, Rick Smith is stepping away from his role to take care of his family as his wife battles breast cancer.
"We made this decision because family is the most important thing," Smith said Monday.
Tiffany Smith, diagnosed in September during a routine mammogram, is undergoing treatments in Arizona. Smith and his wife were both present for his final press conference as Texans GM less than 24 hours after the end of the 2017 regular season. Smith expressed his gratitude to the McNair family for their support, allowing him to balance his job, three children and his wife's treatments over the course of the season.
Smith outlined his plan to take an extended leave of absence for one year, but began his press conference by saying this was "a comma, not a period" on his tenure. He plans to return at some point in the future.
"Whatever role that is, I'm going to maintain executive vice president title," Smith said. "If we hire a GM and have a guy to run the personnel, then we'll do that. It's a fluid process but I am absolutely intent on coming back. I will maintain at least the executive vice president title and if Mr. McNair feels like he wants to hire a general manager, then he will hire a general manager and that will be just fine."
Named general manager on June 5, 2006, Smith became the NFL's youngest general manager at the age of 36 and has since helped assemble four AFC South championship teams. Collectively, the Texans current roster, all acquired by Smith, has earned 20 Pro Bowl selections, 21 first-or second-team Associated All-Pro distinctions, three Defensive Player of the Year awards and one Defensive Rookie of the Year award. Last year, Smith and the Texans traded up 13 spots in the first round to select quarterback Deshaun Watson (12th overall) from Clemson in the 2017 NFL Draft.
The Texans and Colts squared off in Week 17 at Lucas Oil Stadium.