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Washington QB Alex Smith Reflects On Thinking ‘Why Me?’ During Hospital Stay Following 2018 Injury

Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) walk onto the practice field during training camp. (Photo by: Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah and current Washington quarterback Alex Smith spoke to the media for the first time during training camp. He reflected on the time he spent in the hospital following his leg injury in November 2018.

“Yeah, definitely. I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a lot of the ‘Why me?’ especially early in the hospital,” Smith recalled thinking. “To wake up and you fall asleep, you kinda forget what happened; and you wake up, and it kind of hits you again every single day like, nah, this is really real. And it’s not coming back. There’s no going back. This what I’ve got moving forward for the rest of my life. That was early though. Those emotions were those first few months and it took a while to get over. I think that was part of obviously being comfortable with what my life, my new normal is, and then from there moving forward.”

Smith said after practice that he is feeling better everyday and Wednesday was the best he has felt on the field.

“Today was the best I felt out there for sure,” Smith said.

A common thing that can occur when dealing with such a horrible injury is the fear that comes with returning to competition.

“I’m not going to be ruled by fear,” Smith said. “It’s easy to talk about, but for me to be about it and go about it the right way.”

As far as his play on the practice field, Smith is getting back into a groove now that he is throwing to receivers.

“I feel really good working through progressions,” Smith said. “My foot quickness, as far as getting back, working through passing progressions, ball handling, a lot of things like that. I think obviously the next progression is certainly the unchoreographed things, the time the pocket breaks down, you get pushed back, there’s a thousand and one different scenarios that come up. It’s hard to drill all those things.”

Smith still has the mindset of the things quarterbacks need to do when a play breaks down.

“When those things happen and it does break down, really, do you have what it takes there to save the play, find success, whatever that outcome is, escape the pocket, things like that?” Smith said.

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 ESPN’s “Project 11” documentary which aired on May 1.

Doctors attended to the injured 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,” Elizabeth Smith said. “He wasn’t Alex.”

The former Utah signal-caller 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],” the QB said.

Saving Alex Smith’s Leg

Following the development of the infection, doctors consulted with Elizabeth 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 said of the discussion to amputate his limb.

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

In total, Smith experienced 17 surgeries.

Alex Smith’s NFL Career

Smith has played in the NFL since 2005. The former Mountain West Conference Player of the Year 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.

In 2018, his first season with Washington, 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.

Washington is scheduled to open the 2020 season on Sunday, September 13 at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.