Za’Darius Smith Fulfilled the Prophecy

An Unexpected New Problem Emerges for Vikings
Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za'Darius Smith (55) celebrates with linebacker Danielle Hunter (99) after Hunter sacked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers in the fourth quarter during their football game Sunday, September 11, 2022, at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Min. Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK.

Za’Darius Smith predicted vengeance toward his old team for about five months leading up to Week 1, and the 30-year-old fulfilled the prophecy on Sunday.

Smith was a tyrant all afternoon, irking Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and authoring game-changing plays en route to a 23-7 Vikings victory.

The Packers employed Smith for three seasons from 2019 to 2021, but relations evidently soured down the stretch. Last week, Smith told Tyler Dunne from that he wanted payback and hence signed with the Vikings in March.

Smith said, “For me to be where I’m at today, that’s how you know I love the game. I put my all into it. That’s why I felt the way I did with Green Bay. I gave that sh-t my all. I put my blood, sweat; I put my back on the f–king line. I put everything. And that Year 3, I was treated bad.”

He also explained his motivations for signing with the Vikings, “That’s why I’m here now. So, I can play them twice a year.”

Za'Darius Smith Renews Vow for Vengeance on Sunday
Jul 28, 2022; Minneapolis, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. Mandatory Credit: Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports.

Smith also told Rich Eisen from NFL Network in May that he was excited to play his old team, “I can’t wait to get a chance to face them the first game and see that look on Aaron Rodgers’ face when he sees me on the other side of the ball. It’s going to be a, ‘It’s good to see you again, but now, it’s not at practice.'”

On both fronts, Smith backed up his words.

Minnesota Vikings linebacker Za’Darius Smith. © Dan Powers/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin / USA TODAY NETWORK.

The ex-Packer sacked, taunted, disrupted, irritated, and bested Green Bay throughout his revenge tour.

He even helped orchestrate a game-altering goal-line stand in the 2nd Quarter.

Some called Smith a beast.

And to top off the theatrics, Smith even conducted a Warren Sapp + Brett Favre-like tussle with his former teammate.

All told, Smith accounted for two tackles, two quarterback hits, one sack, and one tackle for loss while playing 74% of the Vikings defensive snaps. He was Minnesota’s motor on defense in a game where Minnesota showcased several defensive standouts.

After the game, Smith tweeted, “Say Cheese.”

He likely sat on that tweet for six months.

Dustin Baker is a political scientist who graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2007. Subscribe to his daily YouTube Channel, VikesNow. He hosts a podcast with Bryant McKinnie, which airs every Wednesday with Raun Sawh and Sally from Minneapolis. His Viking fandom dates back to 1996. Listed guilty pleasures: Peanut Butter Ice Cream, ‘The Sopranos,’ and The Doors (the band).

Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

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