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In the seven months since his devastating leg injury against the Houston Texans, Washington quarterback Alex Smith has been largely silent.
On Nov. 18, Smith broke the tibia and fibula in his right leg, and the situation was complicated further after he reportedly fought a post-surgery infection.
Smith has done his first interview since the injury, but it’s not exactly the traditional sit-down: he met with Fox 5 DC’s Angie Goff in a shopping mall, where the pair got massages, and they talked with their faces pushed through the padded rests.
Not quite the soft-focus, perfect-lighting setup we’re used to, but it may have been better - Smith has never been big on interviews, and seemed more relaxed. He and Goff even played a bit of dodgeball in the middle of the mall.
The 35-year-old offered some details into his recovery and said “the plan” is for him to play football again.
‘The first four months were really, really hard’
Smith told Goff that on the day they met, he had played golf in the morning, done his physical therapy and gotten a workout.
“This might be my most active day since the injury,” he said.
The progress he’s made in the last few months has been great.
“The last three months have definitely been life-changing - in a sense of, I’ve been able to start driving, I can work out, I’m off crutches. The first four months were really, really hard,” Smith said, adding it was both a physical and mental struggle. “Just to be in a wheelchair for as long as I was. When you have independence and then lose it. ... That was the hardest part.”
When Goff noted that Smith seems to always be smiling, he downplayed the idea that he’s preternaturally positive.
“I think like most people I’m trying to get through each day, you know? Try not to get caught up ... how far down the line. It’s crazy looking and it sucks what happened, but at the same time, there’s people out there that have it way worse,” he said. “Stuff happens to everybody, life happens, and this is just a time for me to obviously be tested and have this challenge in front of me and how can I handle it?”
‘It comes from Siberia’
Smith’s lower right leg is encased in an external fixator, a metal frame that is affixed to his bones to keep them in place. He said it’s saving his leg.
“I’ve got this crazy contraption that nobody’s ever seen before on my leg that comes from like Siberia,” Smith said.
(Though it’s unclear if Smith’s device is from Siberia, it was apparently created by a physician from there.)
“But, believe it or not, this thing’s going to save my leg, save my bone, and so allow me to heal and walk again and hopefully play football again,” he said.
The fixator will be in place for 4-to-6 more weeks.
‘That’s the plan’
Once it is removed, Smith can start the process of potentially getting back into playing condition.
“I start jogging, jumping, running,” he said.
Playing football again?
“That’s the plan,” Smith said. “Steps. I’ve got to conquer some more steps before I get there, but, yeah - learn to run again, that’s a big one. I’m already throwing, I feel like throwing’s not a problem, I feel like I can throw.
“Dropping, moving around, change of direction ... the steps I’m at right now are lifestyle steps. I’m still working on playing basketball with my kids, running around after my daughter. There’s all those things I have to conquer anyway [before] I get there that I’m walking on a field.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited about that challenge. The stronger I get every week, the more I do, the more hopeful I am that that’s a real possibility.”
Though there is still a way to go, Smith has been progressing well, overcoming numerous hurdles.
“I swear I do stuff every week or two weeks with my physical therapist that definitely surprise me, that I didn’t think I could do. Sometimes they’re physical obstacles but a lot of times - I’d be lying if I didn’t say they were mental obstacles, things with my leg that I just don’t trust it yet, but I realize I’ve healed quite a bit, I’m further along than I think,” Smith said.
“Those are always nice, like when those big ones happen, I feel good. That trust in my leg coming back, sometimes you have to do those things to get that trust back.”
You can watch the full interview here:
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