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Former Utah QB Alex Smith Reveals Severity Of Brutal 2018 Leg Injury During Documentary

Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Redskins lays on the field after being sacked and injured by Kareem Jackson #25 of the Houston Texans in the third quarter of the game at FedExField on November 18, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah Utes and current Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith detailed the severity of the life-changing leg injury he suffered in 2018 during an E:60 documentary.

The documentary titled “Project 11” aired on ESPN on Friday, May 1.

During the hour-long special, Smith revealed significant details of the injury, including whether to amputate the limb due to a flesh-eating bacteria that infected his leg.

Due to the graphic nature of the injury, we aren’t including images within this story. Click here if you are interested in seeing an image of Smith’s leg days after his injury.

Warning: Viewer discretion is advised. 

Alex Smith’s 2018 Injury

The former Utah quarterback suffered a broken fibula and tibia during Washington’s game against the Houston Texans on November 18, 2018.

“It went fuzzy,” Smith recalled the injury during the E:60 special.

Doctors attended to the injured Redskins’ signal-caller and determined immediate surgery was required.

Days after the initial surgery, Smith developed a fever and his leg became infected with flesh-eating bacteria. Multiple surgeries were required to remove all of the dead tissue from his limb.

“He progressively got worse,” Smith’s wife Elizabeth recounted. “He wasn’t Alex.”

Smith said that he doesn’t remember much of this process and didn’t immediately understand the significance of the injury.

“The last thing I remember was them wrapping my leg and seeing it look like that [infected],” Smith said.

Saving Smith’s Leg

Following the development of the infection, doctors consulted with Elizabeth Smith to determine the next steps in helping Alex.

Questions like “Can we get control of it?” and “If we can’t get control of it, what do we do?” were in the minds 0f Smith’s doctors.

Not only was Smith’s leg in jeopardy, but so was his life.

“I can’t go home to my children without him,” Smith’s wife recalled. “Just make sure he gets up. He wakes up. I don’t care if it’s with one leg or no legs. We just need to make sure he’s ok.”

“Maybe cutting off your leg is the best thing,” Alex Smith said of the discussion to amputate his limb.

Ultimately, amputation wasn’t the chosen route. Doctors, along with Smith, continued to fight to save the leg.

In total, the QB experienced 17 surgeries.

Smith’s injury was so severe that it was no longer considered a sports-related injury. The damage done to the leg was compared to military injuries and Smith went to San Antonio, Texas to rehab.

Alex Smith’s Future

Smith’s path back from the brutal injury hasn’t been an easy one. It even took the quarterback a while to think about football again.

“I didn’t really want to think about football and couldn’t really think about football for so long,” said Smith.

After 10 months of recovery and lots of hard work, Smith was able to walk on the turf at FedEx Field prior to a Washington Redskins game in September 2019.

“I feel really good about where I am. Optimistic and hopeful,” Smith said that day at FedEx Field.

The quarterback is still recovering from the injury more than a year and a half after he suffered it. He is still a member of the Redskins’ roster.

Although he wasn’t playing under center that September day, the quarterback still has the goal to return to the gridiron but feels good with whatever happens.

“I’m feeling pretty good about the rest of my life,” Smith said. “Regardless of what happens with football.”

Alex Smith’s Football Career

Smith has played in the NFL since 2005. He was drafted out of Utah by the San Francisco 49ers with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft.

He’s been a member of the Niners, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Redskins.

In 2018, his first season with the Redskins, Smith passed for 2,180 yards with a 62.5 completion percentage. He threw 10 touchdowns and 5 interceptions in 10 games before going out with the injury.

Through 166 career games, Smith has completed 62.4 percent of his throws for 34,068 yards, 193 touchdowns, and 101 interceptions.


The “Project 11” documentary is available on-demand via ESPN+.

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