Football Team

How snowboarding helped Alex Smith realize he should retire

Football Team

Alex Smith was on the "side of a mountain" when he decided he should retire from the NFL, the quarterback told ESPN in an interview on Monday.

Hours earlier Smith had announced his career as a professional football player was over.

As he explained it, the combination of being able to enjoy an activity he hadn't tried in 17 years and the chance to do so with his family was the final push he needed to call it quits, which was where he was leaning this offseason.

"I couldn’t sleep the night before," Smith said, recalling the trip. "I was nervous, I was excited, wondering if my leg would hold up, how it would do. To go out there and be on the mountain with my kids and my dad — who taught me how to ski — was amazing, to overcome that and to face that again.

"I feel like I’ve built up a lot of walls throughout this recovery process, and there’s more walls left out there to take down. I look forward to doing that, and I look forward to doing that as a father and a husband."

 

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Smith, per reports, did draw interest from multiple franchises once he was released by Washington, and he even took a visit to meet with his old college coach, Urban Meyer, and the Jaguars.

Yet in the end, even as he feels "so lucky" that he was able to take the field again in 2020 following one of the most gruesome injuries in sports history, the opportunity to be a consistent part of his family's lives was more important than suiting up for another campaign.

"I got to go to my Everest," Smith said. "I still feel like I have other mountains out there."

To close out the interview, the 36-year-old was asked how it feels to be such a "model of inspiration" for people, and one that goes far beyond athletics.

In his response, the QB first reflected on those who inspired him during the "darkest times" of his own strenuous recovery, like Cowboys linebacker Jaylon Smith and countless servicemen and women, and then he expressed hope that he'll be a similar symbol for anyone who faces adversity in the future. 

"For me to potentially be a link in that chain for anybody coming after is humbling and an honor," Smith said. "If I can be a piece of that progression, then that would be amazing."

Not that confirmation was needed, but Smith undoubtedly is a very respected and beloved "piece of that progression."