Alex Smith: A true inspiration for all


Quin Norris, Sports Editor

On April 19, reigning NFL comeback player of the year, Alex Smith retired from the NFL. 

This brings an end to one of the most inspiring stories the NFL has ever produced. So, in honor of Smith’s career I want to take our readers down the memory lane of his career. 

Before the start of his NFL career, Smith was the starting quarterback for the Utah Utes of the Mountain West Conference. While at Utah, he played for then head coach Urban Meyer where he passed for 2,952 yards on a 67.5% completion percentile. Smith also passed for 32 touchdowns on only four interceptions. This performance landed Smith fourth in Heisman voting and led his team to an undefeated season finishing fourth in the final AP poll. 

Heading into the 2005 NFL Draft, Smith was a highly touted scout who was projected to go in the first round. However, when time came for the San Francisco 49ers to make the first pick of the draft they acted against the NFL analysts’ projections for the Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers, and instead to Alex Smith as their future star. 

Once Smith got to the team, he struggled to adjust to the NFL game leading many to criticize the 49ers organization for their decision to draft him. When I say the early part of his career was a struggle, I mean it. In his first three seasons with the team he recorded 19 touchdowns to a staggering 31 interceptions. While not all his fault in his first seven seasons with the team they made the playoffs just once while Smith played with a rotating door of coaches and missed most of his fifth season in the league with a serious shoulder injury. 

However, all of his struggles would turn around in 2011 when his new head coach Jim Harbaugh showed up. In Smith and Harbaugh’s first year the duo would join forces to lead the 49ers to an appearance in the playoffs before being quickly eliminated. However, the massive turn around that Smith showed had many fans excited for what the future would hold. During the 2012 season Smith would start hot leading the team to an impressive start and leading the league with only 3 interceptions. Then in week nine he suffered a serious concussion and would lose his starting role to a young upstart quarterback named Collin Kaepernick who would go on to lead the 49ers to an appearance in the Super Bowl against the Baltimore Ravens. 

This would lead to Smith packing his bags to head east and play for Andy Reid and the Kansas City Chiefs. During his time with the Chiefs, Smith’s career blossomed as he took off becoming one of the most efficient passers in the league taking the Chiefs to the playoffs all but one season with the team. Despite his success with the team, the Chiefs traded up in the 2017 NFL Draft to grab a replacement for the aging veteran by the name of Patrick Mahomes. Smith would still take the field as the starter in 2018 and would mentor the rookie while having a stellar season where he passed for over 4,000 yards with 26 touchdowns. 

By the end of 2017, the writing was on the wall and it was time for Mahomes to take over and for Smith to once again leave the team he had just started finding success with. This would send him further east to strap up for the Washington Football Team in 2018. His start with Washington was a strong one leading the team to a 5-1 record. However, in week seven of the 2018 season Smith went down with a season ending leg injury that nearly killed Smith due to complication from the injury. Many felt that this would be the tragic end to Alex Smith’s career as many wondered if he would be able to sustain his weight at a sufficient enough capacity to play in the league again. This would lead to the start of a curling year long rehab by Smith that worked so well that he was back on the roster by the start of the 2020 season. 

Now, while too many are just making back on the roster and taking a snap was a good enough reason to give comeback player of the year to Alex Smith, he would take his opportunity to inspire the league just a little more by not only making it back on the roster for the Football Team but also leading them to a strong enough record to win the NFC East and make the playoffs. 

So, thank you Alex Smith. For having one of the most inspiring stories of perseverance the NFL has seen over the past few years, and here is to the 2021 NFL and to the hope that it brings yet another inspiring player like Smith.