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After devastating injury, Thanksgiving has new meaning for Alex Smith and his family

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Quarterback Alex Smith is starting for the Washington Football Team on Thanksgiving Day, just over two years after that infamous and devastating leg injury that nearly cost him his career and his life.

In a conversation with retired quarterback Kurt Warner, Smith talked about how Thanksgiving has changed for him and his family since the injury

Thanksgiving should be more than one day a year

Thanksgiving 2018 happened just four days after Smith’s injury. It was during that time that Smith said that he and his family realized that everything was going to be different from that point forward. Looking back on everything he’s been through and his long road back to the football field, he is grateful and thinks there should be more than just one day a year dedicated to giving thanks.

“There are so many things I think we take for granted in our life,” Smith said. “We should do more often than one day a year and realize how lucky we are for so many things.”

Smith said that he feels like he’s getting his second chance, so his start on Thursday has given the day new meaning.

“Thanksgiving will forever be such a special day for me and my family,” he said.

Injury day is Smith’s ‘Alive Day’

As part of his rehab, Smith received special permission to go to the Center for the Intrepid, the rehab center for the military. That’s when he started calling his injury day his “Alive Day,” which is what members of the military call the day they survived a traumatic injury. It wasn’t until he started rehabbing at the Center for the Intrepid that he even considered that football could be part of his future, that he truly realized what “survival” could be like for him.

Until then, Smith said that he’d been at his lowest. He’d gone through numerous surgeries and survived a life-threatening infection, and he didn’t know what his life would be like. He didn’t know if he’d ever walk normally again, or play with his kids. Football wasn’t even on the table. His first visit to the Center for the Intrepid changed all of that.

Alex Smith will start for Washington on Thanksgiving, a day that has new meaning for him and his family since his devastating injury in 2018. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
Alex Smith will start for Washington on Thanksgiving, a day that has new meaning for him and his family since his devastating injury in 2018. (Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

“In my first trip down to the Center for the Intrepid, that was the first time they put a football in my hands and made it OK for me to even think about that,” Smith said. “I couldn’t even walk and they had me start throwing, and I remember how therapeutic it was to get a ball again and start throwing. It really energized me.”

Smith could return for Washington in 2021

Smith has returned from a devastating injury and started again in the NFL, and that might not be the end of his story. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Washington wants Smith back in 2021.

Smith, who would make $19 million in 2021, hasn’t been overwhelmingly spectacular, but he’s a perfectly serviceable option for Washington as they look for a franchise quarterback and wait for Kyle Allen, who suffered an ankle injury earlier this season, to recover. Smith has gone 55 of 80 for 556 yards with one touchdown and one interception in four games this season.

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