Updated: Aug 17, 2020
ASHBURN, VA -- You can count me amongst those who thought we had seen the last of Alex Smith. This was before his Verizon Center appearance and the numerous articles documenting the SEVENTEEN (17) surgeries he endured. Before the ESPN special that showed his recovery, and now of course the announcement that he has been activated off the PUP list by the Washington Football Team.
See, over the last decade or so I've seen my fair share of injuries from the sideline. This one was different. Much different. From the speed of the players calling for the trainer, to the time it took for the trainer to call for the cart - everything about the play looked and felt like nothing I'd seen before.
From my standpoint, nothing leading up to the game felt different. I recall shooting Alex Smith's pep talk to the offense right before the Redskins took the field...
He was amped up - as much as Alex Smith gets amped up - and came running out of the tunnel after player announcements just as he had in the previous games.
Up to that point in the 2018 season, Smith had led the Redskins to a 6-3 record, and although the performances were nothing to write home about, the winning, which is what should matter most, was happening at a rate we hadn't seen in a couple of seasons.
Over halfway through the year we had heard the stories about Smith from both players and the staff. "Don't look at the stats" we were advised, because regardless of how mediocre they looked on paper, the reality was that Smith had the respect and confidence of not only those two groups in the locker room and on the field, but management and ownership were all-in as well.
It appeared as though things were taking shape for the Redskins and Smith. Much as he had done his entire career, Smith was teaching the franchise how to be winners on and off the field again.
And then it all changed on November 18th, 2018.
Now, I'm not trying to take credit as being some sort of Nostradamus but I do recall the Texans being the more physical team that day, and specifically towards Alex Smith anytime they had a chance to put a body on him.
To that point, late in the second quarter, there was a play in which it appeared that Texans defensive back Johnathan Joseph was going for a headshot on an Alex Smith scramble and slide. However, the two seemed to talk it out and the game played on.
Fast forward to the 3rd quarter. Mason Foster had just recovered a fumble caused by Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. The score was 17-7 and Washington needed a good drive and some points badly. After a nice quarterback scramble to keep the drive alive and a couple of first downs, the Redskins were faced with 3rd and 9 from the Texans 24 yard line.
I can only assume that Smith made a couple adjustments at the line. It's kinda crazy looking back now to see that after breaking the huddle the first place he looked was the direction the blitz came from.
Then, a lot of lives changed...
As mentioned earlier, I've seen quite a few injuries over the years but I have an unwritten code to not publish injury photos. Call it what you will, I just don't like doing it. So, many of these shots are being seen for the first time by anyone outside of my family and friends.
We can all look back now seeing these still images and understand why those looks of concern were real. From Morgan Moses to Larry Hess, to Dr. West, Adrian Peterson and Chris Thompson in that last frame, everyone, including the photographers around me, we all knew it was serious.
Nobody knew just how serious though.
To see these last two years unfold the way they have one can completely understand why Liz Smith, Alex's wife, was so happy to share the video she did on Saturday night as the news hit the wires that the Washington Football Team had removed the former Captain from the Physically Unable to Perform list and that he will now be able to participate in team drills.
What happens from here on out is a matter of miracle (God), performance (Alex), evaluation (Ron Rivera) and business (front office) as Alex is owed approximately $21.4 million dollars this season.
Undoubtably, some fans will be cheering for him to come back and start again for the Washington Football Team to close this storyline out full circle. Others may want to see him back up Dwayne Haskins. A handful of people may want him to be traded to a contender in need of a gutsy quarterback to see the Alex Smith story end in a fairytale fashion.
No matter where you stand, as a human being we should all be rooting for the guy. He's a clear cut example of class as he showed before the injury, perseverance and determination as he showed after the injury and an example to anyone who has ever faced insurmountable odds... Nothing Is Impossible.
Original video and photography all shot by All-Pro Reels (Joe Glorioso.)