According to an interview with ESPN’s Outside The Lines, Redskins quarterback Alex Smith is “very much lucky to be alive” after a gruesome leg injury during a game in November of 2018.
In a matchup against the Houston Texans, Smith suffered a compound fracture to his right leg after a tackle by J.J. Watt and Kareem Jackson. The fracture penetrated the skin and left him vulnerable to a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
“I had a pretty serious infection … they had a lot of complications with it,” Smith told ESPN.
The seriousness of his condition required for Smith to be heavily sedated during this period. When he finally came to, he was faced with another life-altering decision.
“… next thing I remember is waking up several weeks later faced with the decision of amputation or limb salvage at that point,” Smith said.
Smith decided against amputation and instead to work towards regaining the use of his right leg. This process required several more surgeries before he was cleared of all infections.
For over a year, Smith has been working diligently to rehab the limb. There were doubts about what could realistically be accomplished through rehabilitation but Smith knew there were aspects of life that he did not want to give up on recovering.
“My ability to walk normal, to ever play with my kids, to ever go on a hike, go on a walk with my wife, hiking, skiing,” Smith continued.
Smith has surprised everyone with how much progress he’s made in his recovery and while most thought he’d never be able to play football again, he has brought that back into the realm of possibility.
Under contract for the next two seasons, Smith is set to count $21.4 million against the Redskins salary cap next year. He also has the full support of head coach Ron Rivera, who frequently mentions Smith when discussing quarterback competition for 2020.
“I also don’t want to forget Alex Smith,” Rivera told Doc and Galdi. “Here’s a guy that’s doing everything he can to come back, and if Alex can come back and be the player that he was we have a good situation, we have competition at that position.”
Although he has surpassed expectations with his rehab, Smith understands that a potential return to the field is still considered a long shot.
“There’s enough there that I can go out there and play … Knowing that, yeah, failure is a possibility … I need to prove that I can come back and play quarterback in the NFL, and if I can do that, that would be great and it’ll get figured out.”