Washington Football Quarterback Alex Smith Makes Epic Comeback to Play After 17 Surgeries
Three-time Pro Bowler Alex Smith first lined up behind an NFL center in 2005. It was an everyday occurrence, a routine part of the job for the quarterback. That was until 2018 when he suffered a major, life-threatening leg injury.
Smith needed to undergo “17 surgeries to repair his leg and to fight an infection that nearly caused doctors to amputate it,” ESPN reports. Smith’s two-year-long journey towards recovery was documented in an E:60 special titled, Project 11.
It was during that documentary that it was revealed Smith had a titanium rod inserted in his leg. It was also revealed that doctors have told him “there’s no more risk for him than for other players,” according to ESPN.
Many thought Smith would never return to the field. That all changed on Sunday when Washington’s starter, Kyle Allen, got hurt in the second quarter and Smith was called in to play quarterback. It was the first time that’s happened in 693 days.
As you can see and understand, Smith’s family was very emotional. “Without a doubt. Just the little things, putting on a uniform, pregame warm-ups, running out of the tunnel. All those things you take for granted sometimes. I wasn’t going to do it this time.”
Smith’s coach, Ron Rivera, who is going through a battle himself fighting a form of skin cancer, was proud of Smith. “I realized the gravity of it,” Rivera said of Smith’s return to ESPN, “but I also realized he’s a football player who has been waiting for his opportunity. He got his opportunity and he did a good job. I was very pleased with what I saw. He was put in a very difficult position, and I thought he handled himself very well.”
And it wasn’t just Rivera. The league and other players, like Nate Burleson and Jared Goff took notice, realizing the magnitude of this situation and supporting one of their own. “That is truly one of the most amazing things I think, not only that we’ve ever seen, but one of the most amazing things in football history, is him getting back from that injury,” Goff said of Smith’s return.
Teddy Bridgewater was among the fellow NFL QBs to praise Smith’s return.
“I’d be lying if I said there weren’t a lot of days I didn’t think it was going to happen,” Smith told ESPN. “You’ve just got to keep pushing through. I always felt when I had my darkest moments, there was always something around the corner that happened and I kept plugging along. I’d make a big gain or big step or something clicked. … And for me the biggest ones were the last six to eight weeks, getting on the field and knowing I can do it and doing it consistently.”
In the end, Smith said it felt great to be back out onto the field. It was something he definitely missed.
Charlie Lapastora is a sports/news multimedia journalist who’s reported, written, produced, anchored, shot video/edited on different NBC, ABC, and FOX shows in multiple TV markets, along with digital & new media companies. Charlie has traveled the country telling national sports, news, feature, and original stories on a cable news network, airing on top 10 TV markets, satellite radio, and digital platforms. He is passionate about his faith, family—being a husband to whom he calls the G.O.A.T. of women—about reppin’ his home state of Michigan and Detroit teams (yes, including the Lions), good coffee, and loves how sports brings people together. He’s traveled the world leading and coaching sports camps and has also worked at the Detroit Pistons and LA Clippers’ NBA teams.