Alex Smith says coming back from damage put a wrench on the Washington Soccer staff’s plans: “They did not need me.”
Alex Smith’s return to the football field in 2020 after a life-threatening leg injury was one of the biggest stories of the NFL season. But Smith said his triumphant return was viewed more as an undesirable obstacle by the Washington Football team.
Smith said in an interview with GQ Magazine Tuesday that he threw a “wrench” into the WFT’s quarterback plans, adding that the team was surprised he could play after an injury on November 18, 2018: a compound Fracture that broke both the tibia and fibula in his right leg. A life-threatening infection made the situation worse and almost forced the doctors to amputate his leg above the knee.
Smith returned to Washington before the 2020 season began but didn’t feel “fair shaken” when first year coach Ron Rivera highlighted sophomore quarterback Dwayne Haskins as the team’s starter.
“When I decided to come back, I definitely threw a wrench into the team’s plan,” Smith told GQ. “They didn’t see it, didn’t want me there, didn’t want me to be part of it, didn’t want me to be on the team, in the squad, didn’t want to give me a chance. Mind you, it was a whole new regime, them came in, i’m like the leftovers and i’m hurt and i’m this responsibility.
“Hell no, they didn’t want me there. At this point, as you can imagine, I couldn’t have cared less about all of that. Like it or not, I’ll admit that’s a try at this point.”
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Smith said the team first tried to get him into the injured reserve before the final roster was cut, which would have put an end to any hope of a 2020 comeback. Instead, he opened the camp on the list of physically inefficient teams until August 16. Even then, Smith said, he wasn’t allowed to participate in fully padded 11v11 workouts until late in training camp – and only after that did he nudge coaches to give him a chance.
“I felt like I didn’t have a fair shake at this point,” said Smith. “I wanted to see if I could play quarterback and play soccer and I feel like I haven’t been given this opportunity to find out. It’s like I’m near the end line of a marathon and they’ll tell you that you can’t finish the race. It’s like ‘f – that. I’m finishing this thing. At least I’ll see if I can.’ I’m grateful we worked through all of that, but no, it wasn’t like open arms coming back after two years. “
Smith opened as the team’s No. 3 quarterback for the first four games of the season before Rivera picked the Haskins bank (89 of 146 passes, 939 yards, four touchdowns, three interceptions, 13 sacks). Smith, then the primary backup, saw his first action in week 5 after starter Kyle Allen quit the game with a concussion. He completed 9 of 17 passes for 37 yards in the 30-10 loss.
Smith registered the statistics only four weeks later and completed 24 of 32 passes for 325 yards and a touchdown to three interceptions in a loss of 23 to 20 against the Giants. He made his first start the following week, leading the team to four wins in five games. He suffered a bruise in a win against San Francisco on December 13, but returned in the final regular game of the season to lead the team to a playoff win against the Eagles. He did not play in the team’s wildcard loss to eventual Super Bowl champions Tampa Bay. Rivera went with Taylor Heinicke instead.
In six games started, Smith completed 135 of 203 passes for 1,220 yards and five touchdowns to five interceptions. For the season, he completed 168 of 252 passes for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns to eight interceptions.
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The Washington Football team declined to comment on the Smith interview, which raises questions about whether he will play for the team again in 2021. His contract extends through the 2022 season, during which he would become an unrestricted free agent. The team had a cap hit of $ 24.4 million per Spotrac in 2021. The team would save $ 13.8 million if released.
Whether Smith will return to play for Washington remains to be seen. But the 2020 NFL comeback player isn’t interested in hanging his cleats just yet.
“I have more left,” Smith told GQ. “I have more to get there too. So I really really want to dive into the meat of this off-season and see where I am and push it. I want to push my body harder. I want to push my leg harder.” The harder I press on it, the more it reacts.
“At some point, of course, I’ll have to sit down with my wife and have a very real conversation, and do we want to do that? She deserves a lot of input. So we’ll see.”