The fall from grace of Alouettes' starting QB Troy Smith

It will live there, some would say in infamy, on the ninth page of this season’s Alouettes media guide — the full-page colour photo of a very serious-looking Troy Smith, clutching a football, dressed in full uniform, standing on the 30-yard line.

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The picture’s positioned, in all its glory, before the biographies of owner Robert Wetenhall, general manager Jim Popp and head coach Tom Higgins. The message, it seemed at the time, was clear — Smith would be the face of the franchise moving forward; the guy who would replace, and hopefully make everyone forget, about the retired Anthony Calvillo.

That’s why Smith was brought in to Montreal last May, days before the opening of training camp, for a meet-and-greet at a downtown sports bar … why he was signed to a contract extension over the winter, although he wasn’t anywhere near becoming a free agent.

In retrospect, fortunately, the organization didn’t put his mug on the cover of the book. It did, however, release the former Heisman Trophy winner on Thursday — one day after the team picture was taken at Olympic Stadium. It’ll be interesting to see, when the photo’s released, whether it includes Smith or he has been photo-shopped out.

Nonetheless, it’s a stunning fall from grace. Smith, the quarterback of the future in June, released in October. History will remember him as yet one more who was here during the Calvillo era that didn’t work out, earning him a spot with the likes of Josh Neiswander, Adrian McPherson, Ricky Santos, Chris Leak, Brad Banks, Nealon Greene, Jesse Palmer, Tavares Bolden and the lamentable Ted White.

Smith was on the Als’ negotiation list some eight years, general manager Jim Popp remaining patient, until he was in a position to be signed, following NFL stops in Baltimore, San Francisco and Pittsburgh. Who knows what Popp, who couldn’t be reached for comment, must be thinking now, although he must be feeling somewhat humbled by it. Not every move works out.

What will remain a mystery, is what became of the Smith we witnessed last season? The player who seemed to have potential and promise? He joined the Als in mid-August and started the final three regular-season games, going 2-1, along with the playoff match. He passed for 884 yards — 340 alone against Hamilton — along with nine touchdowns. He was intercepted five times. Of course, that was under a different coaching regime and system.

“I thought he played well at the end of the year,” said offensive coordinator Ryan Dinwiddie, who replaced Rick Worman at training camp. “Maybe some guys were making plays for him, acrobatic catches? He was coming to an offence that was starting to peak. This year, it was all on his shoulders and he had to start over. That’s hard to do.”

Smith started the first six games this season, the Als going 1-5 while averaging a league-low 16.3 points, before being placed on the six-game injured list, supposedly banged up with nicks to his knee, ankle and thumb. He passed for 989 yards — 309 against Winnipeg — but completed only 47.7 per cent of his throws, with four touchdowns and four interceptions.



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