Alex Smith was back on the field Sunday, playing in his first NFL game since suffering a gruesome leg injury that he sustained on a sack in 2018.
The veteran quarterback’s return represented a victory not only for him and his team in Washington, but also for Smith’s support system that helped him during his two years of rehab and uncertainty.
Among those perhaps the most nervous and excited to see Smith under center was his father, Doug Smith, who talked with the Los Angeles Times’ Sam Farmer about what it was like to see his son on the field for Washington on Sunday.
“Tremendous pride in his effort and desire and work,” Doug Smith said, as quoted by Farmer. “This is something he wanted and thought he could do, was going to put the time in to try to get there…For your kids, you’re there to try to support them. If he’d have come away and said, ‘I’m never going to play again,’ we would have supported that, too.”
The elder Smith admitted to tearing up when Smith was called into the game. Washington announced earlier this week that he would be the backup after 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins was benched in favor of former Panthers quarterback Kyle Allen. Smith wasn’t expected to see any game action right away, but Allen took a hit in the second quarter that forced him out for the rest of the game.
“I went into today thinking, ‘I’m glad he’s back in uniform, and maybe got a few reps this past week,’” Doug Smith told the Times. “In your mind you’re thinking, ‘Yeah, he’s not going to get on the field today.’ And then it happens.”
Head coach Ron Rivera announced after the game that Allen will be the starter next week if he’s healthy enough to play. But even though Smith’s return didn’t garner any special results — Washington lost 30-10 as Smith threw for 37 yards on 17 attempts — he sparked a feeling of admiration in his father for the work he put in to make his comeback.
“When we were raising our kids, I used to give them all kinds of heck about work ethic: ‘You guys don’t know what work ethic is,’” Doug Smith said. “Of course, I walked 10 miles to school and all of those exaggerated stories. Those ‘If you just worked as hard as me, you might get somewhere’ kinds of stories.
“But to see what he’s done, I certainly couldn’t have done that. There’s no way. I couldn’t have persevered and worked that hard to have done that. It’s a mental thing and a physical thing, both. He certainly showed me what it truly means to work hard and be committed.”