With Monday's report that the Washington Football Team is expected to part ways with veteran quarterback Alex Smith soon, fans and local media began to speculate on what it means for Smith's legacy in the nation's capital.
The 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year was a steadying force for Washington when he was on the field, with an 11-5 record in 16 starts. The problem is those 16 starts (and 18 total games) spanned three seasons thanks to the injury bug.
Smith's return from a life-threatening injury was an inspiration and one of the best stories in sports last season, but according to former player and local broadcaster Brian Mitchell, it's not enough to earn him the prestigious honor of induction into the Ring of Fame.
"No. Because the Ring of Fame is not about your comeback story. His comeback story got him Comeback Player of the Year, okay? That’s where that happens," Mitchell said on his 106.7 The Fan radio show Monday afternoon when asked about the possibility. "And I understand that we have not won in so long that we want to grasp everything that seems to be positive. And I say no. I am as big an Alex Smith fan as anybody, but I’m also a realist. So you don’t just come in because someone got hurt and they came back. That doesn’t necessarily mean anything. Now they may end up doing something like that. But there are guys that played 14 years, 16 years, won Super Bowls, been there over and over again. And they’re not in it."
Mitchell, who was inducted into the Ring of Fame himself in 2009, points to many of the other members as examples of players to make larger impacts than Smith was able to in his three seasons in Washington.
There are only 48 members, making it an exclusive club. And several of those aren't players, so the barometer for a player to earn this kind of legacy is even more difficult to clear - especially when the player only played 18 games with the team.
That doesn't take away from Smith's inspirational journey in Mitchell's eyes. But it has to be weighed when considering the legends already in the Ring of Fame.
"This is what athletes do," Mitchell continued. He was someone able to fight back and had the right people to help him get back...I think we are so hungry for anything positive, anything successful in this town that we just grab it all. No. You’ve got the likes of Bobby Mitchell and Art Monk and Darrell Green and they played 20 years and all that type of thing. So at this point I say no."