Amid reports of animosity between Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith and head coach Bill O'Brien, Smith announced Sunday that he is taking a leave of absence to be with his wife, who is battling breast cancer.
"Effective immediately, I have chosen to take an extended leave of absence to focus my attention and intention on my wife's complete recovery from her recent diagnosis of breast cancer," Smith said in the statement. "We are faithful and trust in God's promise of healing and wholeness. I am eternally grateful to the McNair family for their unwavering support during this trying time.
"This was an extremely difficult decision for me to make as I love this organization and every member of this team both on and off the field. I remain committed to our quest to bring a championship to the city of Houston, yet my family needs me now and they are my priority."
O'Brien and Smith apparently have disagreed on the direction the franchise should take, with reports that one of the two would have to go.
It is unclear at this point whether O'Brien will have a greater say in personnel decisions in Smith's absence.
The Texans lost to the Indianapolis Colts 22-13 on Sunday to finish the season 4-12. Houston has traded away its first- and second-round picks in the 2018 NFL Draft and does not have a pick until the third round.
Smith began working for the Texans in 2006, becoming the league's youngest general manager at 36 years old.
The Texans have a 92-100 regular-season record with Smith in charge, and went 3-4 in the playoffs.