After suffering that November 2018 injury that no one will soon forget, fighting through a horrific infection that nearly cost him his leg and at last getting back to a place where he can walk, run and, most importantly, enjoy everyday life again, Alex Smith's next goal is to resume his NFL career.
That's something he made clear the day after the Redskins' 2019 season ended, and while the idea seems risky or even impossible to some, one person who's grown to know the quarterback very well believes there's a legitimate chance he'll do it.
Stephania Bell, an injury analyst for ESPN and lead reporter for the network's upcoming Smith-centric documentary called "Project 11," has been by the QB's side for nearly the entirety of his recovery and witnessed him overcome tons of obstacles. So, during a Redskins Talk podcast interview with Mitch Tischler, she addressed the question that's been asked countless times since Smith went down.
"Do I believe he can play professional football again?" she said. "I think we're going to see him back on the field at some point. I would not be surprised at all."
Bell herself acknowledged just how "crazy" that image is but also isn't about to underestimate Smith after all he's persevered through in front of her.
"Every time we would film something, every time we would get together, I would tell him this: I would be like, 'You're blowing me away,'" she explained to Tischler. "And every time he was just making such progress."
Smith was seen before practices last season on a side field doing things like dropping back and throwing and pushing weighted sleds. That's a long way from operating in the pocket on Sunday, but then again, it's also a long way from almost having his leg amputated.
But even if Smith isn't able to fully return and take another pro snap, Bell is confident he'll be able to handle that reality.
"Let's be clear: If he doesn't, he'll be fine," she said. "This guy will be fine either way. What was most important to him was to be back being a dad and a good husband and be able to play with his kids."
And on the flip side, if he does ultimately pull it off, he won't just be doing it to complete a miraculous story. He'll be doing it to reward himself and with the hopes of making a difference.
"I think there's a part of him that really wants to prove it to himself, that he can do this again," Bell said. "And he wouldn't want to be out there as a token representation. He would only want to do it if he felt like he could compete."
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