Commanders

Ryan Shazier impressed with Alex Smith's 'incredible' return

Commanders

The effort and determination it took for Alex Smith to return to the game of football is something that not many can truly understand without personal experience. The fear of a career-threatening injury, the months of rehab and the small victories are all one-of-a-kind challenges.

Someone who can relate to Smith's journey, however, is former Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier. Faced with similar adversity, he's amazed at what the quarterback has accomplished.

“Me, personally, I think it’s incredible how he’s overcome this," Shazier said on Aqib Talib's 'Call the Booth' show. “I think both of us got hurt around the same time, both of us were pretty much counted out.”

Shazier's injury was a life-changing moment in his career that came nearly a year before Smith's leg injury in 2018. On December 4, 2017, a head-to-head tackle involving Shazier left the linebacker with a serious spinal injury. He was unable to move his legs at the time.

Shazier, a two-time Pro Bowler, would spend the next years not just trying to get back to football, but learning how to walk, jog and run again. He reached those goals, but in September of 2020 announced that he would be retiring from the game.

So, as Shazier sees Smith taking the field, playing the game at the highest level and winning, it's something that he personally knows did not come easy. As impressed as he is with the return, Shazier is also happy to see that Smith's playstyle hasn't missed a beat.

 

“The thing is, about Alex Smith, he’s always been a winner, he’s always been a consistent quarterback, he’s always been somebody that doesn’t turn the ball over," Shazier said. "That’s exactly what he is doing in Washington.”

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Talib, who as a member of the Denver Broncos played against Smith plenty when the quarterback was with the Kansas City Chiefs, has noticed the same.

“When I watched Alex Smith last night, it looked like the Alex Smith who I used to play against, bro," Talib said.

“Alex Smith, I think he’s back, man," Talib said.

When Smith takes the field for the Washington Football Team, he's doing more than just showing the world that he can overcome major challenges. He's a symbol of strength for others who have gone through the same, like Shazier.

Even after the quarterback found success against his former team, Shazier couldn't be prouder of his resurgence and journey.

“He’s doing exactly what he’s always done and I’m just glad to see he’s coming back out here because he’s really just showing everybody ‘I’ve been through this, doesn’t matter what you go through you can overcome anything,'" Shazier said. "He’s really just showing it right now.”