If any one person deserves the trite title of “comeback kid,” it’s Alex Smith. The veteran quarterback almost died after suffering a gruesome leg injury in 2018, and somehow returned to (and won games in) the league.
But Smith, the 36-year old NFL veteran, rebounded constantly throughout his career, as highlighted in his retirement video posted to Instagram. He was an undersized recruit, then a Heisman finalist and number one overall draft pick in 2005. He was a dependable starter in San Francisco who was later benched for young QB in Colin Kaepernick. He was traded to Kansas City, given another opportunity to start, and made a few Pro Bowl rosters. Then, he sat behind another young QB named Patrick Mahomes. The pendulum kept swinging, obstacles kept coming, but Smith never dodged. He adjusted.
In Washington, Smith suffered that life threatening injury and wondered if he would be able to walk again. Last year, he came in off the bench, posted a 5-1 record as a starter, helped capture the NFC East, and, of course, won the 2020 Comeback Player of the Year award. I mean, it’s an all-time story.
He retires with three Pro Bowls and this pretty cool stat I saw on SportsCenter: Smith is the only QB since the 1970 merger to post 40 wins in both the NFC and the AFC. Could he be one of the more successful journeyman QB’s in football history? I guess that depends on how you define “journeyman.” Do three teams qualify? Probably not. But I’ll let a debate shows settle that tomorrow morning.
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With today’s announcement, Smith can enjoy the rest of his life, whatever that might entail. The now-former QB turns 37 next month and has a family to hang with.
“Even though I have plenty of snaps in me,” he said towards the end of the retirement video. “After 16 years of giving this game everything I’ve got, I can’t wait to see what else is possible.”