Alex Smith felt unwelcome by Washington during comeback

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Barry Werner
·3 min read
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NFL Comeback Player of the Year for 2020 Alex Smith says in a candid interview with GQ he believes the Washington Football Team didn’t want him around. At all.

Per GQ:

When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench in the team’s plan. They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be a part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, the roster, didn’t want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime, they came in, I’m like the leftovers and I’m hurt and I’m this liability. Heck no, they didn’t want me there.

The former No. 1 overall pick by the San Francisco 49er suffered a gruesome leg injury in 2018 that caused him to miss the entire next season. He had 17 surgeries, 28 screws, and three plates put in his right leg after being sacked by J.J. Watt and other Houston Texans.

Smith went through painstaking rehab after nearly losing his right leg and eventually started six games for Washington — appearing in eight — going 5-1 as the team won the NFC East despite a sub-.500 mark. His return came in relief against the Los Angeles Rams.

His welcome came in the form of being tackled by Los Angeles’ great defensive lineman Aaron Donald.

I don’t think I’ve ever been tackled like that in my entire career, ever playing football. It’s so crazy that the first time I get tackled after all this is Aaron Donald jumping on my back. If there’s any other way for me to know that my leg was strong enough, here’s the perfect example.

Did you look at your leg after that and be like, “Okay, we’re good?”

There was a moment. I didn’t know it was Aaron at the time, but I felt like it was in slow-mo. I’m like, “I have a D-lineman on my back right now.” And I took a couple of small steps before I went down. There was a little pause when that happened, like, “I got a human on my back with this leg.” Turns out it was the three-time Defensive Player of the Year.

The leg held up and Smith led Washington to the playoffs. He was unable to go in the loss to eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay due to a calf injury.

However, his remarkable return stirred all and earned him Comeback Player of the Year honors in a landslide. He encompassed the mantra “Just Live,” mentioned in his speech while accepting the award.

I learned what that means, to just live. Being in the moment, making the most of the opportunities. And certainly what an opportunity it is to go out there on Sundays and play, to be like kids. That stuff’s not going to last forever. We don’t know when it’s going to slip through our fingers. So it became something I would tell myself all the time: “Just live. Just go out there.”

To read the wide-ranging, compelling Q&A click here.