There aren't many people more inspirational than Alex Smith.
Football fans and beyond know Smith's story by now, where he nearly lost his leg and his life before he returned to the field for the Washington Football Team. But even Smith admits he needed help in overcoming his own mental adversity. For Smith, a former 49ers teammate was a great reminder.
Smith recently spoke with Alabama's football team on his own struggles with anxiety. When coach Nick Saban asked how he overcame them, here's what the recently retired quarterback had to say.
"There was this linebacker -- he was like a backup linebacker, core special teammer. One of these crazy guys," Smith said. "This is back when we could have the walls and the wall-busters on special teams and this guy was on all of them and he was a little nuts. His name is Blake Costanzo. And before games he would run around the locker room and get in everybody's face and this is kind of in the midst when I'm in my own thoughts and before a game was probably when it was worst for me.
"He would run around the locker room and he would get in everybody's face. And he'd be like, 'Are you gonna live today?' And he'd be like, 'I'm gonna live today! Are you?' At first it kind of caught me off guard. He was just a crazy man. But then you'd go watch him and he was fearless out there. Fearless. He made plays. He wasn't perfect, of course not.
"But for me, this teammate of mine, he ... I don't even think he knows it to this day, the effect he had on me. ... That kind of became my battle cry. I'd tell them two words: Just live. For me that's ultimately what I took, even battling my recovery."
Smith was teammates with Costanzo on the 49ers in 2011. He re-signed with the 49ers in 2014, when Smith was with the Kansas City Chiefs, but the linebacker was cut and stopped playing football.
Costanzo recorded 13 tackles with the Niners and now coaches high school football. However, the impact he made on Smith, and surely many others, will last a lifetime.