One of the better stories of the 2020 NFL season was Alex Smith’s return to the field. After suffering a brutal leg injury in 2018, the veteran signal-caller worked through surgery and rehab to play for the Washington Football Team.
When the injury happened, it was unknown whether the 14-year quarterback would ever take another snap. Although Smith’s comeback was a great story, it may have caused problems for the Washington Football Team. According to the quarterback, his return “threw a wrench” into his team’s plans.
Alex Smith says Washington didn’t want him after his horrific leg injury
During a game in 2018, Alex Smith suffered a compound fracture of the tibia and fibula in his right leg. He needed to undergo more than 20 surgeries just to save his leg but managed to return to action during the 2020 season. His comeback, however, may have caused an unexpected problem for the Washington Football Team.
“They never thought I was coming back. No one there…the rest of the world either doubted me, or they patronized me. ‘Yeah, that’s really nice that you’re trying.’ When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan. They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance,” said Smith per GQ.com.
During the season, however, Smith wasn’t worried about Washington’s feelings; he simply wanted to see if he could play again. He, of course, got that chance during Week 5 against the LA Rams.
“I honestly never thought it would happen. I’d just gotten bumped up from third-string to backup, and boom, sure enough, I’m playing. It was a ton of emotions. A ton of dread and terror…It’s so crazy that the first time I get tackled after all this is Aaron Donald jumping on my back,” Smith said.
Alex Smith credits the military for football return
After suffering his awful leg injury, Smith’s relationship with football was somewhat strained. During his rehab at a military facility, however, he was able to reconnect with the game he loved.”.
“Their [the military personnel’s] involvement in my rehab, being the foremost experts on lower limb injuries in the world and the rehab that I was doing…they were the first ones in a rehab session, really early on, to put a football in my hands…I just enjoyed doing rehab with a football in my hand,” Smith told GQ.com.
With his leg and love for the game restored, Smith played well in his comeback season, helping Washington make the playoffs for the first time since 2015. His efforts won him the Comeback Player of the Year Award. During his acceptance speech, he told people to “just live.” He provided insight into what he meant by that and how it helped his rehab.
“Being in the moment, making the most of the opportunities. Just live and enjoy the process…that reminder of the mindset and attitude, trying to live up to that one day at a time,” said Smith.
Now that he knows he can play, the veteran quarterback wants to continue his career on the gridiron.
Where will Alex Smith play in 2021?
The Washington Football Team is in a unique position regarding Alex Smith’s future with the team. They saw what he could do last year, squeaking into the playoffs.
It makes sense that Washington moves on from the 36 year old quarterback. Washington will save $13.8 million if he is released per ESPN. If he’s on the roster, he brings a $24.4 million cap hit. The team signed Taylor Heinicke to a two-year contract, signaling he could be the team’s next quarterback.
“We’re still in a situation where we are looking at all of our options,” coach Ron Rivera said in early February per ESPN.
Alex Smith’s comeback from his devastating leg injury was one of the best stories in sports in 2020. He defied all odds, including the odds his own team gave him of returning. After proving to himself he can still perform in the NFL, Smith is hungry to see how much more he and his body can do.
“Football-wise, I got more left. I got more to get there too. So I really do really wanna get in the meat of this offseason and see where I’m at and push it. I want to push my body harder. I want to push my leg harder. The harder I push it, it does respond. So I kind of want to go do that,” Smith said to GQ.com.