Against the odds, Washington quarterback Alex Smith survived a life-threatening health crisis to return to the football field in 2020. For his efforts, the Associated Press voted Smith the Comeback Player of the Year.
On Nov. 18, 2018, Smith suffered a compound fracture to his right leg during a regular-season matchup between Washington and the Houston Texans. The gruesome injury immediately called back to the infamous broken leg former Washington signal-caller Joe Theismann suffered exactly 33 years to the day earlier.
However, the true extent of Smith’s troubles didn’t arise until later. Sepsis developed in Smith’s leg following surgery, nearly forcing doctors to amputate above the knee. While further procedures saved the appendage, Smith spent the following year in a stabilizing apparatus while slowly relearning how to walk. Few expected he would ever play professional football again.
Instead, Smith pushed himself back into playing conditioning and reappeared on Washington’s active roster in 2020. His official return would wait until Oct. 11 when, in relief of injured starter Kyle Allen, Smith took his first live snap since the injury. He would go on to make six starts including the team’s season finale, recording 1,582 passing yards, six touchdowns, and eight interceptions.
Though Smith has not committed to playing another season, he appears to lean in that direction. During a recent appearance on the Rachel Ray Show, Smith said he felt “excited for this offseason to see what I can go do — football and everything else.” Whether he can return to Washington remains unclear, but the latest Comeback Player of the Year should have options regardless.