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Former Utah QB Alex Smith Details ‘Exhilarating, Terrifying’ NFL Comeback

Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Football Team throws a pass in the second quarter 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 NFL quarterback Alex Smith discussed the “exhilarating” and “terrifying” decision he made to return to the football last season.

Smith discussed his comeback during an interview with Fox Sports’ Colin Cowherd.

The former NFL player returned to the field in 2020 after missing the end of the 2018 season and all of the 2019 campaign following a significant leg injury.

“For a long time, football was 1,000 steps away. It might as well have been like going to Mars,” Smith told Cowherd. “The real gut check came in those last moments.”

Smith said that when he returned to the Washington Football Team before training camp in 2020, he expected to hear that his leg wasn’t healed enough to play football again.

He heard the exact opposite thing. Doctors told Smith that from a health standpoint he could do whatever he wanted to do.

“For two years, I’d walked around on eggshells, trying not to slip and fall in the kitchen or getting out of the shower, and all of the sudden I’m like, ‘I can play tackle football,'” Smith said.

“I’m so excited,” Smith said after hearing the news. “At the same time, I’m terrified cause football is right there. That line’s right there and there’s the next step and I just got the green light to take that step. And I’m really scared.”

He continued by saying that his wife, Elizabeth, gave him the nudge he needed to continue pursuing his return to the gridiron.

Alex Smith’s 2018 Injury

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

Doctors determined immediate surgery was required.

Days after the initial surgery, Smith developed a fever and his leg became infected with flesh-eating bacteria.

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

In total, the QB experienced 17 surgeries.

Alex Smith’s 2020 Comeback

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.

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

After the season, Smith was released by Washington.

In April, he announced his retirement from football.

Alex Smith’s NFL Career

Smith played in the NFL from 2005-20.

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

During his career, Smith played for the 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington.

Through 174 career games, Smith 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 and host of the Yards After College Podcast. Follow him on Twitter (@kyleireland) and Instagram (@kyleirelandksl).