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Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball for a nine yard gain during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)
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Alex Smith’s Career A True Testament Of Perseverance

Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball for a nine yard gain during the fourth quarter against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium on November 11, 2018 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Will Vragovic/Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Former Utah quarterback Alex Smith has announced his retirement after 14 seasons in the NFL.

San Francisco 49ers

Smith, 36, was drafted with the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft to the San Francisco 49ers. During his rookie season, Smith played in 9 games and only threw one touchdown pass while throwing 11 picks. It was a rude awakening for Smith as he began his NFL career.

It took Smith five seasons to finally play in the postseason. In 2011, the 49ers lost in overtime to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship, 20-17. That season, he led the 49ers to a 13-3 record, the team’s first 13 win season since 1997.

But despite Smith’s success in 2011, Smith entered the 2012 season as a free agent. It was rumored that the 49ers were interested in acquiring Peyton Manning after he was released by the Indianapolis Colts. As a result, Smith visited the Miami Dolphins. However, shortly after Manning signed with the Denver Broncos, Smith re-signed with the 49ers on a 3-year contract worth $24 million.

During that same offseason, the 49ers also added wide-receivers Randy Moss and Mario Manningham. They drafted A.J Jenkins in the first round in an effort to progress the passing attack.

In the 2012 season, Smith started the season and led the 49ers to a 6-2 record through the first 8 weeks of the season. However, in week 9 against the St. Louis Rams, Smith suffered a concussion in the second quarter and was replaced by Colin Kaepernick. Despite regaining health, coach Harbaugh opted to continue playing Kaepernick over Smith. That year, the 49ers made the Superbowl for the sixth time but lost to the Baltimore Ravens 34-31.

Kansas City Chiefs

Smith was outed by the 49ers and on February 27th, 2013, was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs for a second-round pick in the upcoming 2013 NFL Draft and a conditional pick in the 2014 Draft.

During his time in Kansas City, Smith led the Chiefs to playoff appearances in all but one season. However, the furthest the Chiefs would go under Smith’s watch would be the Divisional Round in both 2015 and 2016.

In 2017, the Chiefs drafted Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes with their first-round selection. Smith would start the 2017 season and played a pivotal role in helping Mahomes learn and understand the ropes of the NFL.

Washington Football Team

However, as was the case in San Francisco, Smith’s tenure at Kansas City was cut short due to the continued promise shown by Mahomes during practice. On January 30th, 2018, the Chiefs traded Smith to the now Washington Football Team in exchange for cornerback Kendall Fuller and a third-round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.

The Injury

Shortly after arriving in Washington, Smith led the Football Team to a 6-3 record before suffering a life-altering leg injury against the Houston Texans on November 18. He suffered a compound and spiral fracture in both his tibia and fibula in his right leg.

The injury drew parallels to former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann, who also broke his leg in a game 33 years to the day prior in 1985 and retired shortly thereafter. Coincidentally, Theismann was in attendance and witnessed the injury while attending the game against the Texans.

Shortly after his initial surgery to help mend the gruesome breaks, Smith developed necrotizing fasciitis that resulted in sepsis which required him to undergo 17 surgeries, including 8 debridements, across 4 separate hospital stays over a period of 9 months. Doctors had suggested that an amputation above the knee might be his only option before performing skin grafts and an operation transferring muscle from his left quadriceps to save it.

Pundits immediately began to question Smith’s future in football. It seemed as though he was never going to return to the field and was consequently going to be forced into retirement.

The Comeback

But Smith had other plans.

The Washington Football Team placed him on the Physically Unable To Perform list, and did not play a single down during the 2019 season.

In July of 2020, Smith was cleared by his doctors to begin football activities again and on August 16 he was activated to the 53-man roster.

Then, in week five against the Los Angeles Rams, after the then starter Kyle Allen suffered an arm injury, Smith ran onto the field for the first time since his leg injury. He threw 9 completions for 37 yards and was sacked 6 times in the 30-10 loss.

The following week he returned to the field after Allen dislocated his ankle. Smith threw for 325 yards, 1 touchdown, and 3 interceptions in the 23-20 loss to the New York Giants.

Smith’s first win since the injury would occur against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 10 of the 2020 season. The following week he would guide the Football Team to an upset against the undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers when he threw for 296 yards and a touchdown.

But a week after the miracle victory against the Steelers, Smith was pulled from the ground after complications arose with his right leg. Images arose of blood trickling down the right leg of Smith after he suffered a bone bruise. The Football Team claimed he was just dealing with calf soreness.

Smith’s Final Game

Smith’s final game of football occurred against the Philadelphia Eagles in the final regular-season game of the season. He threw two touchdown passes and beat the Eagles 20-14 to help the Football Team to secure an NFC Division title.

He was named as the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year and many football fans vouched that the award be named after Smith moving forward.

Smith announced his retirement on April 19, 2021, after 14 seasons in the NFL. He threw for 35,650 yards, 199 touchdowns while averaging a 62.6 completion percentage.

 

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