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When Washington quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome broken leg last November 18, it brought back memories of the career-ending injury suffered by franchise legend Joe Theismann — and in an eerie coincidence, Smith’s injury came 33 years to the day after Theismann’s.
And now, while he says he intends to play again, Smith could be facing the same career-ending fate.
Report: Smith has undergone 17 surgeries
The last 11 months have been a slow process for Smith, who broke the fibula and tibia in his right leg against the Houston Texans, and he hasn’t been seen much publicly.
There were reports just a couple of weeks after the injury that Smith had an extended hospital stay because of an infection. In a June interview with Fox 5 DC, Smith admitted that the first four months were “really, really hard,” both physically and mentally. At the time, he was still wearing an external fixator, essentially a bulky metal halo that screwed into the bones of his lower right leg, and he credited it with saving his bone and leg.
According to a Wednesday report by Thom Loverro of the Washington Times, Smith’s recovery has been even more grueling than first believed: speaking to an audience of mostly medical professionals at Inova Sports Medicine earlier this month, Smith said he’s undergone 17 surgeries.
Loverro cited a person who attended the event that asked not to be identified.
That person said there was an audible gasp from the crowd when Smith revealed that number.
In December, NFL Network reported Smith had undergone six surgeries to clean up the infection and remove tissue.
A Washington spokesman said the team does not comment on individual player-specific medical questions. Smith did not respond to a request for comment.
‘That’s the plan’
In that June interview, reporter Angie Goff asked if Smith wanted to play football again.
“That’s the plan,” Smith said, but acknowledged that he had a way to go to get to that point.
It’s unclear how many surgeries, if any, Smith has had since that interview, but after 17 surgeries we might just call it a career and be happy to have two functioning legs.
The 17 surgeries is a dramatically different figure than the six the NFL Network reported in December. Those nearly half-dozen operations were reportedly part of an effort to remove tissue after Smith developed an infection following the operation he had to repair the broken fibula and tibia he suffered in that 23-21 loss to the Texans.
It is not known if all the operations that followed were related to the infections, though the absurd number of operations would indicate that the infections were severe.
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