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Sunday in the NFL provided the cruelest of ironies. On a day when Washington quarterback Alex Smith pulled off the improbable and made a miracle return to action after suffering a devastating leg injury two years ago, Smith’s counterpart Dak Prescott from the division rival Dallas Cowboys suffered an equally grotesque leg injury. Everyone now waits and hopes Prescott’s final outcome is as promising as Smith’s minus the life-threatening part in between. 

Alex Smith suffers grotesque injury

November 18, 2018. Alex Smith dropped back to pass like he’d done thousands of times before in his career. Houston Texans defenders J.J. Watt and Kareem Jackson blew through the Washington offensive line unimpeded and met simultaneously at Smith, who went down awkwardly on his right plant leg. 

It was evident immediately something was terribly wrong as the cameras showed Smith’s leg pointing in the wrong direction. He immediately removed his helmet and pulled his shoulder pads up over his head, obviously in considerable pain. He had suffered a spiral and compound fracture to his tibia and fibula. Just like that, his season, and possibly his career was over.

Alex Smith’s injury was bad enough. It was about to get a whole lot worse. After his initial surgery, he developed life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis, or flesh-eating disease that resulted in sepsis. With his leg’s deteriorating condition and his life in jeopardy, doctors thought amputating his leg just above the knee might be the only option. 

Fortunately for Smith, doctors saved his leg but only after undergoing 17 surgeries, including eight debridements, or surgical removal of dead tissue, which he endured during four separate hospital stays in a nine-month period.

Alex Smith recovers and returns to action

Alex Smith’s recovery was the subject of an ESPN documentary titled “Project 11,” which documented Smith’s journey and included exclusive access to Smith, his family and his doctors, who deemed the injury “warlike” because it appeared like he had been the victim of an explosion.    

In fact, Smith received special permission from the military to get medical advice at the Center for the Intrepid in San Antonio, which is a state-of-the-art facility that assists men and women injured in combat. With additional knowledge from his consultation with the center, Smith continued to rehab with the intent of one day returning to the NFL.

On Sunday, Alex Smith’s miracle comeback was complete when he appeared in the game after Washington starter Kyle Allen suffered an arm injury in the second quarter. Smith came on and completed nine passes for 37 yards. He was sacked an alarming six times but walked off the field after the game under his own power. It was easily one of the most impressive comebacks in sports history.

Dak Prescott suffers devastating injury   

An hour after Alex Smith made his amazing comeback in Washington, 1,300 miles to the southwest in Dallas, Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was flushed out of the pocket and was being pursued by Giants defender Logan Ryan. Ryan fought of Prescott’s stiff-arm and slammed the Dallas quarterback down to the ground, Ryan’s weight landing on Prescott’s right leg, which, like Smith’s, was pointing in the wrong direction.

Prescott, not initially recognizing the severity of the injury, slammed his foot down on the ground as if trying to pop it back into place. Medical officials rushed on to the field to tend to the injured quarterback. Those in attendance and watching on TV couldn’t help but have flashbacks of the most recent grotesque injury suffered by a quarterback with Alex Smith.

Dak Prescott, like Smith, suffered a compound fracture, but to his ankle. He also suffered a dislocation. Medical personnel put Prescott’s leg in an aircast, and immediately took him to the hospital. Last night doctors operated on Prescott in an effort to “wash out the wound and fix the fracture,” according to a team statement. 

All of it is eerily reminiscent of Alex Smith’s journey that began two years ago next month. Now everyone is nervously hopeful that Prescott’s journey can have the same happy ending. 

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