Dak Prescott and Alex Smith have more in common than the position they play and the division they’ve shared. Unfortunately so.
Both quarterbacks suffered catastrophic lower-body injuries; Smith, previously of the Washington Football Team, compound-fractured his right leg in 2019, and Prescott, currently of the Dallas Cowboys, compound-fractured his right ankle in 2020. The former required 17 surgeries to prevent amputation, the latter needed two operations to preserve the prime of his career.
The irony isn’t lost on Prescott, who — without prompt — expressed overwhelming gratitude to Smith amid Wednesday’s press conference announcing his $160 million contract.
“Even sitting there, holding my leg or whatever on the field, trying to put it back into place, or later on being in the hospital and waking up from surgery, that’s just what God’s thrown at me,” he told reporters, via Pro Football Talk. “If you’ve known my life, if you’ve known my story, whatever circumstance that is, I’m going to take it with a smile and be thankful that God has put me in this position to overcome it, to be an example to others. So never in a million years [did he think his career was finished].
“And I have to thank, honestly, Alex Smith. Because at that moment when you’re sitting there and you have an injury like that or you come out of surgery, to see somebody who’s already done it and did it actually in worse circumstances, that allowed my mind just to go to straight, ‘Hey, I can do this. I’m going to beat this. It’s just a matter of time. What are the doctors saying? But I’m going to beat this.’ So I have to thank Alex for somebody who’s overcome that and won Comeback Player of the Year, and congrats to him.”
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It’s funny what can bring two people together, even something as horrifying as their respective maladies. But it’s helped the signal-callers forge a unique bond. You may recall that Prescott last month congratulated Smith on winning 2020 CPOY and thanked the 36-year-old for being a “huge inspiration.”
“I’ve been following your career since Utah, playing under the same coaches in college,” he told Smith in a clip shared by the NFL.
Now Prescott is the favorite to follow in Smith’s footsteps — the favorite to win 2021 Comeback Player of the Year, replete with his own video montage and, who knows, perhaps a shoutout from his chief motivator.
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Clarity on Surgeries
As of March 11, Prescott is exactly five months removed from his first trip under the knife. He underwent a second operation in December that was described as a clean-up procedure, helping to strengthen his ankle — and, reports emphasized, not a setback.
The newly-minted $160 million quarterback confirmed the second surgery, which was done with his best long-term interests in mind, and that he feels “great” as his rehab process, originally estimated at 4-6 months, nears its conclusion.
“So the second surgery was something that was thought upon that might have to happen when the first surgery happened,” Prescott said Wednesday, via Pro Football Talk. “Obviously, the first surgery, with an open wound, you want to get that and eliminate any risk of infection. That’s all that was for the most part. We got a month or so down the road and said, ‘You know it would be best if we went in there and did do that now.’ As Mr. [Jerry] Jones has said, 10 years, 15 years, I can still be playing still, right, and not have to deal with something or have something bothering for eight years or whatever [before another surgery]. . . . We might as well knock it down and get it straight now, while I’m already missing games; I’m already missing time. That was obviously the thought behind that, and that’s what happened. It was needed. I feel great.”
Follow Zack Kelberman on Twitter: @KelbermanNFL