Washington Redskins’ quarterback Alex Smith was removed from the NFL’s physically unable to perform (PUP) list last week. Smith’s career was believed to be finished after suffering a spiral and compound fracture to his right tibia and fibula during a November 2018 game against the Houston Texans. Smith had 17 surgeries on his right leg, and was even close to having his leg amputated. He is now cleared to participate in team activities, completing a comeback that is nothing short of miraculous.
For any other team, Smith’s return to the Redskins would be the lead story on SportsCenter. However, this is the NFL team with the formerly detestable nickname. Therefore, such accolades will never be afforded to them. Smith’s return is a special case. His career has been a testament to resiliency. A former number one overall pick by the San Francisco 49ers in 2005, Smith was eventually replaced by quarterback Colin Kaepernick (yes, that Colin Kaepernick) in 2012. Smith went to the Kansas City Chiefs in 2013, and was replaced by Patrick Mahomes before the 2018 season.
It can be reasoned that replacing Smith with Kaepernick and Mahomes respectively were the correct decisions. Kaepernick led the 49ers to the Super Bowl after the 2012 season. Mahomes led Kansas City to their first Super Bowl title in 50 years after the 2019 season. Smith eventually signed with Washington before the 2018 season after quarterback Kirk Cousins left Washington to sign with the Minnesota Vikings.
Many forget that Washington was 6-3 and in first place in the NFC East at the time of Smith’s injury in 2018. If Smith hadn’t been injured, Washington would have made the playoffs that year. Smith provided stability to the quarterback position. His nearly 2 to 1 touchdown to interception ratio solidified the Redskins’ offense. After he went down, Washington won only one of its remaining seven games while missing the playoffs for the third straight year.
Fast forward to 2020. Washington’s quarterback position is firmly in the hands of second year starter Dwayne Haskins. Smith would surely solidify the team’s depth behind Haskins and veteran Kyle Allen. It would be best if Smith never saw the field in 2020. That means Haskins is healthy and is contributing to Washington’s on field improvement. In any case, Smith should be commended for taking the necessary steps to get back on the field, as well as live a normal life again. And that’s the true definition of resilience.