Alex Smith Details Comeback As Part Of '60 Minutes' Special

The comeback story of Alex Smith is one that will be told for generations after he fought back from a near career-ending/life threatening injury to not only return to the football field, but lead Washington to the playoffs as NFC East champions.
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In football, and especially in life, absolutely nothing is guaranteed.

There might not be a player in the NFL that knows that sentiment better than former Utah and current Washington Football Team head coach Alex Smith.

After everything Smith has been through in his career, it's amazing that finds himself in his current predicament. He can either hang up his cleats forever he can choose to return to Washington and finish out his two years remaining on his current contract.

It's such a difficult decision that Smith is going to take the next few weeks to make his decision regarding his future.

“I had so much fun this year, especially given all the Covid stuff,” he said during a video conference call with reporters. “But to be back in the locker room, to be on the field with the guys, to be playing a game I love and to lose yourself in it, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. You cannot duplicate it outside of here. … My wife has been through a lot, and my family, certainly I’m going to take their input. But that’s something that right now I’m still just living in the moment and not getting ahead of myself. That is for another time and place.”

Dec 13, 2020; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Washington Football Team quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws a pass against the San Francisco 49ers during the first half at State Farm Stadium.

In a recent feature on CBS' '60 Minutes,' Smith spoke in great detail regarding his comeback and everything he overcame to return to the field. Seated with him was his wife Elizabeth, who also spoke about the mental and emotional aspects of the comeback for not only Alex, but for her and the family as well.

As many know, Smith's life was forever altered on a fateful day over two years ago.

It was on Nov. 18, 2018, in a game against the Houston Texans as Smith dropped back for a pass, JJ Watt, Houston's star defensive player, sacked him from behind and fell on Smith in an incredibly awkward manner, fracturing his tibia and fibula in his right leg.

When it was all said and done, Smith underwent 17 surgeries to control and stop the spread of the flesh-eating bacteria infection. He not only nearly had his leg amputated multiple times, Smith was extremely close to losing his life due to the spread and seriousness of the infection.

Here are highlights of what Alex and Elizabeth said during the interview...

*Immediate Thoughts On Injury
“It was one of those places, a quarterback, you know, OK, they got us, you know, secure the football and just kind of get down. I immediately knew that it was broken. The visual was the most alarming thing for me to look down and know that my leg was broken. It wasn’t straight, bending in a place it shouldn’t bend.”

*Regarding The 17 Surgeries To Save His Leg
“We were in the hospital approximately a month. They had to remove quite a bit of a muscle and tissue from my lower leg in order to get the infection under control. Then faced with the reality that, ‘Hey, we still might have to cut off your leg.’ For me that to hear those words is hard to deal with as a professional athlete. I think I took that for granted for so long my body, my health.”

*Thought Process On What His Life Might Look Like
“Just wondering, I mean, would I ever be able to go on walks with my wife? Would I ever go to play with my kids? Crazy reality, and so I’m really, really thankful to be here.”

*Surviving His Recovery Process At The U.S. Military Center for the Intrepid
“The rest of the world was telling me, ‘Yeah, go be happy with the rest of your life and hopefully you save your leg and that’d be great. Whatever you can do beyond that is icing on the cake.’ That was not the mentality down there. That was the exact opposite, that it’s okay to dream about playing again. It was OK for the servicemen and women. They wanted to go back and try and serve and to do triathlons and, and be elite, to go chase it.”

*Why He Decided To Return This Season
“I’m not crazy. I wasn’t going to do this if I didn’t obviously hear from the experts, and so to hear finally from the experts that, ‘OK, you can,’ for me a bit of a gut check, you know, do I really want to do this? Do I put myself out there? Do I walk across those white lines potentially again in live action?”
“Early on I was supportive. I realized that he needed something to work towards,” Elizabeth said. “I know that football is his life. So why not let him pursue that? Never thinking in a million years that we would actually be on that front doorstep in making that decision.”

*What Elizabeth Felt Like During His First Hit Since The Injury
“Part of it was a blur, but I remember when he took that first hit…I mean you stand up, you’re at the edge of your seat, and he gets right back up and he has a huge smile on his face,” Elizabeth said. “I’m like ‘why’re you smiling right now?’ And it was like he knew…he knew in that moment, ‘I can do this.'”

*What The Future May Hold For Him Regarding The NFL
This year has only emboldened for me that I can play at this level. I feel like I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me saying they feel like my mom when I’m playing and how concerned they are for me.”

You can watch the full interview HERE

Alex eventually returned to the field this past fall and thrived, taking over a struggling Washington team and leading them to a 5-1 record in games he's started, including winning his past five starts.

But it all came crashing down when a lingering calf injury caused him to miss out on Washington's playoff game — a 31-23 loss to Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. Smith gave it everything he had to try and be able to play, but in the end he just wasn't able to pull it off.

Smith finished the season throwing for 1,582 yards, six touchdowns and eight interceptions, completing 66.7% of his passes. 

"Hey, I'm so f****** proud of you, bro," Brady said to Smith after the playoff game. "You're f****** unbelievable, you know that? You're an inspiration to all of us. You're unbelievable. Always here if you need me."

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