Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith deserves a better ending to his pro career than a devastating leg injury with complications.
On Sunday, November 18, Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffered a potentially career-ending injury against the Houston Texans. The injury, a fractured leg, shared eerie similarities to one suffered by former Redskins quarterback Joe Theismann—an injury that largely ended his career.
Smith’s injury is a little more devastating, however. Not only is Smith having to heal from a spiral compound fracture of the tibia and fibula, it’s also been reported that Smith has suffered a post-op infection which has kept him in the hospital as he recovers. For Smith, it’s not only the worst injury of his career, but it’s one that has been called potentially career-ending.
It’s unfortunate because Alex Smith deserves better at this point.
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Smith started his career in 2005 after being selected first overall by the San Francisco 49ers. In each of his first six seasons with the club, he played for a different offensive coordinator. Not being able to develop a chemistry with your offensive coordinator can definitely hinder your career. On top of that, he dealt with a plethora of injuries that hurt both his numbers and the team’s success early on.
Smith eventually grew to lead the 49ers to its first NFC Championship since 1997 in 2011. The following year, Smith was once again winning games for the Niners when he suffered a concussion in the middle of the season.
Smith’s statistical numbers before his injury were impressive, yet after being medically cleared to return, the team opted to keep him benched for the sake of the potential the team saw in Colin Kaepernick.
Following the conclusion of that season, Smith was traded to our beloved Kansas City Chiefs. He saw his most successful years with the Chiefs, not throwing under 3,200 yards in each of the 5 seasons. He only threw for over 3,000 yards once during his time with the 49ers. Smith has read the headlines, heard people talk, and watched the TV. He’s aware of the labels. He’s been called a game manager his entire career.
Smith never threw for more than 8 interceptions with the Chiefs, and he also only threw more than 20 touchdowns in 3 different seasons in his career—all 3 with the Chiefs. Smith’s infectious smile and all-around great personality made him a fan favorite in Kansas City. For years he was criticized for his unwillingness to throw deep and/or his lack of arm strength alongside other complaints that Chiefs fans would voice.
Fortunately, Smith has been remembered well ever since the Chiefs traded him away to Washington.
“Smith was the right man at the right time for [the Chiefs]. He gave us stability, winning a lot of games. He was the epitome of a professional”, one fan told me.
Another fan said, “As far as I’m concerned, he’s a Chief. He will always be a Chief and deserves our utmost respect.”
The fan is not wrong. Smith had the best years of his career with the Chiefs under head coach Andy Reid. The chemistry between Smith and Reid was admirable. Despite his tendency to fold under pressure and ‘manage the game’, you can’t blame the postseason losses solely on him. Smith had helped lead this team in the right direction, with the Chiefs ultimately deciding to trade him and go with its new electrifying quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Smith definitely deserved better.
The Chiefs made the right move in trading Smith, and perhaps it was the best move for him as well—giving him a fresh start and a new chance at chasing a ring. Smith’s closest attempt at getting a ring was the aforementioned 2011 playoff run where he led his team to the NFC Championship. To have his career put on hold, and potentially ended after so many hardworking years of chasing a ring, is saddening. You really have to feel for the guy. He sacrificed everything for the game he loved. Despite any obstacles, Smith has never wavered in his demeanor or determination.
If it were at all possible, I would have loved to keep Smith on the bench for the 2018 season just so he can get his ring. That may seem selfish from a glance, but he’s spent countless years chasing after it. Now at this point, it seems unattainable. During his time with the Chiefs, he averaged at least ten wins, only missing the playoffs once when the team finished with a record of 9-7 in 2013. His off-field character coupled with his on-field intrepidity made him a great quarterback and a better human being. The Redskins were doing quite well with Smith under center and had a legitimate shot at a nice playoff run. Without Smith, the team’s playoff hopes began to sink.
Smith had been considered a class act for his entire career. In fact, it was one of the reasons he was selected over Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was drafted in the same class as Smith. He was nominated for the league’s Walter Payton Man of the Year award on several occasions, an award that recognizes a player’s charitable contributions and community work. Having been a Pro Bowl selection in three different seasons with the Chiefs, his career during his time with the club is something to be remembered.
Not only did the Chiefs win with Smith as the starter, but they are still winning due, in part, to Smith’s willingness to mentor his replacement. Patrick Mahomes’ success can be credited partly to Smith as he sat behind Smith for the entirety of the 2017 season. Mahomes has been clear about Smith’s mentoring role and how helpful it was. If he didn’t learn from one of the most intellectual quarterbacks in Smith, I don’t know if Mahomes would be seeing the amount of success he is in this first season as starter.
Say what you will about him, but there’s no denying that Smith deserves better. Regardless of the team you root for, seeing a player get injured is always sad, but especially when it happens to someone like Smith. Chiefs fans should have no reason to hate on him; he helped get this team to where it is. His teammates loved him, his coaches loved him, and we as fans loved him.
My hope is that Smith can recover and chase the ring once again. Smith helped lead our venerated Chiefs to the success we see now. We, as fans, should be grateful. While his career in Kansas City is over, his legacy and off-field actions that he left behind will not be forgotten.