The Return

08/20/2020 The Return

By: Jeff Yoder

Alex Smith’s Road to Recovery May Be NFL’s Best Comeback Story… Ever

After 21 months, Washington QB Alex Smith took the practice field once again. His road of rehab and recovery may be one of the most inspiring the NFL has ever produced, and his comeback story isn’t over yet.

In November of 2018, Smith was rolled up by a pair of Houston pass rushers. His right leg snapped below the knee causing a break in his tibia and fibula. It wasn’t just a career-threatening injury, but a life-threatening one.

Smith’s fracture was so severe that doctors considered amputating his leg. He developed sepsis due to the open infection where his bones pierced the skin. Both his leg and his life were saved, but walking again, let alone playing football, seemed impossible.

Let’s start from the beginning…

Smith was the No. 1 overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 draft. His football IQ, accuracy and foot speed made him a compelling dual-threat quarterback, but the upside didn’t pan out in the Bay. He had just one winning season in San Francisco over his first eight years. A revitalizing connection with Andy Reid in Kansas City tapped into his talent.

Smith and Reid had five straight winning seasons in KC before the Chiefs selected Patrick Mahomes and inevitably pushed Smith out. It was on to Washington where he had the chance to start — 10 games, a 6-4 record and a 85.7 passer rating. The once-named—Redskins found their guy.

Then it happened. Washington went 1-5 after Smith’s injury. They went 3-13 last season. The team’s 4-18 record since that November day (1.375 seasons) is the worst in the NFL.

But in the shadows of all those Sunday losses, Smith was on the road to recovery. He had a rod placed in his leg and underwent 17 surgeries in 21 months to repair, rehab, and recover from one of the league’s most gruesome and career-ending injury. At 36 years old, Smith refused to let football go.

On Sunday, Smith was cleared to practice, and he did. Posts from friends and family filled the airwaves as football fans everywhere celebrated the return of a quarterback we once thought would never walk again.

To top it all off, Smith isn’t just returning to football, but he’s suiting up again for a franchise in need of a hero. New coach, new name, and a need to re-write history. If anyone can re-write a story that seems already written, it’s the underdog, Alex Smith.