As soon as Alex Smith took his first meaningful snap in almost two years back on Oct. 11, 2020, he clinched the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award. On Saturday night, he merely and finally picked up the hardware to prove it.
Smith was officially given the distinction at the league’s Annual Honors ahead of Sunday’s Super Bowl in what had to have been the easiest decision in the sport’s history.
Had the quarterback simply appeared in that fall game versus the Rams and then sat back down on the bench for the rest of the campaign, he still would’ve landed the title.
However, the fact that he then went on play in seven more contests, start six of those and become the Washington Football Team’s key figure in a division-winning season made Saturday’s news inevitable.
The infamous leg injury Smith suffered in November 2018 and then the ensuing infection that vastly complicated his rehab and nearly cost him his leg led many, if not most, to proclaim that his career was over. Yet Smith and his wife, Elizabeth, were two of the only ones who didn’t see things that way.
Once Smith was released from the hospital, he embarked on an arduous comeback that eventually brought him to Washington’s training camp last summer. But even as he participated in team drills at the franchise’s Ashburn headquarters, it remained difficult to envision him truly playing again.
The 36-year-old never wavered, though, and when Kyle Allen was hurt versus Los Angeles, there he was, jogging off of the sideline and into the huddle. And when he was able to get up after an Aaron Donald sack that involved the enormous defensive tackle climbing onto his back, he sent a message to both his doubters and supporters alike: I can handle this.
So, in return, the NFL handed Smith an award meant only for those who faced extreme adversity, didn’t back down and found success from there. Few people have ever been more deserving of anything, ever.