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Sporting News Honors Washington QB Alex Smith As Its 2020 Comeback Player Of The Year

Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Football Team looks to pass during the second quarter of a game against the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium on November 26, 2020 in Arlington, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Sporting News honored former Utah Utes and current Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith as the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year in its NFL awards.

The sports website released its 2020 honors on Thursday, January 21.

Unlike some awards in sports that are determined by a media vote, Sporting News said that “all of the major awards were determined by the winners’ peers around the league, not based on Sporting News’ staff opinion.”

“Smith wasn’t quite unanimous but garnered 90 percent of the players’ vote. The veteran QB came back from a scary leg injury that put both his career and life in jeopardy,” Sporting News’ Vinnie Iyer wrote. “He was a testament to perseverance just working to get himself back on the field. Smith became a bigger inspiration starting again and going 5-1 during the regular season to help Washington win the division under new offensive coordinator Scott Turner and new head coach Ron Rivera.”

Smith earned the honor after he returned to the league this past season. The former Ute sat out the entire 2019 campaign after he suffered a life-threatening injury during the 2018 season.

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 NFL Playoffs 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, 60 Minutes’ Norah 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.

After the season, Smith said he plans on taking “a few weeks” before deciding if he wants to play next season or retire.

Alex Smith’s 2018 Injury

The former Utah signal-caller 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 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).