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Former Utah QB Alex Smith Details NFL Comeback During 60 Minutes Interview

Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Football Team talks with head coach Ron Rivera before the game against the Los Angeles Rams at FedExField on October 11, 2020 in Landover, Maryland. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah Utes and current Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith detailed his comeback from a brutal 2018 leg injury during an interview with 60 Minutes.

Smith discussed his comeback during a discussion with 60 Minutes’ Norah O’Donnell on Sunday, January 17.


In November 2018, the former Utah star suffered a season-ending leg injury that prevented him from playing the following season and nearly took not only his leg but his life.

“I think there were a lot of people outside of the medical experts that didn’t agree with it, didn’t understand it,” Smith told O’Donnell. “Why would I be doing this at my age, and this point in life, and everything I’d been through.”

“Early on I was supportive. I realized that he needed something to work towards,” Alex’s wife, Elizabeth Smith said. “I know that football is his life. So why not let him pursue that? Never thinking in a million years that we would actually be on that front doorstep in making that decision….”

“It took a lot of time… but in the end, I realized that it was worth it to Alex,” Elizabeth Smith explained. “I never wanted him to have any regret.”

“Butterflies, energy, you know going out there, certainly some anxiety…. just because of all the unknowns and what we’ve been through and the ramifications,” Alex Smith said.

“Part of it was a blur, but I remember when he took that first hit…I mean you stand up, you’re at the edge of your seat, and he gets right back up and he has a huge smile on his face,” Elizabeth Smith said. “I’m like ‘why’re you smiling right now?’ And it was like he knew…he knew in that moment, ‘I can do this.'”

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.

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.

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

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

Smith’s injury was so severe that it was considered a sports-related injury.

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.

Alex Smith’s 2020 Season

Prior to the start of the 2020 season, Smith was cleared by doctors and earned a spot on Washington’s 53-man roster.

Midway through the season, he became Washington’s starting quarterback once again.

He helped led Washington to the postseason and posted a 5-1 record in the games he started.

The former Utah great was unable to play in Washington’s Wild Card loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after he suffered an injury late in the regular season.

While the team listed the ailment as a calf injury, O’Donnell reported that Smith’s injury was a bone bruise.

Smith finished the year throwing for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns, and eight interceptions.

The quarterback said he plans on taking “a few weeks” before deciding if he wants to play next season or retire.

Alex Smith’s NFL 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.

Through 174 career games, Smith has completed 62.6 percent of his throws for 35,650 yards, 199 touchdowns, and 109 interceptions.

Kyle Ireland is a Locals in the NFL Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland) and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).

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