Alex Smith will make yet another comeback on Sunday night, recovering from a multi-week calf injury to start against the Philadelphia Eagles in a potential division-clinching game for the Washington Football Team.
Whether he had returned for Week 17 or not, the veteran quarterback is all but a shoe-in for the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award after returning to the playing field following 17 leg surgeries and a life-threatening infection.
Leading up to kickoff on Sunday night, Smith’s wife, Elizabeth, posted a heartfelt message about her husband on Instagram, along with a photo of Smith’s old leg brace newly transformed into an epic Lombardi Trophy.
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‘No Matter the Outcome, Alex Has Already Won’
Prior to his most recent setback, the former Kansas City Chiefs signal-caller had seen action in seven games this season, including five consecutive starts from Weeks 10-14. Even after helping lead his club to a shocking road win over the then-undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers on December 7, Smith faces arguably the most defining moment of the season in Week 17, where a win could give the NFC East crown to Washington for the first time since 2015.
With the fate of the team’s playoff hopes in the hands of the 36-year-old veteran, Elizabeth Smith was understandably feeling the emotions before the game.
Waiting for this game and I’m a nervous wreck. I look up at our bookshelves as a reminder of where we have been and the hard work to get to this moment. No matter the outcome, Alex has already won. He has beat the largest challenge life has thrown our way. I am incredibly proud and will be cheering loud. Let’s go Washington!
Special thanks to @coldhardart for transforming a symbol of hard times to a trophy of triumph we can proudly put on our shelves. ❤️❤️❤️
A second photo from the artist’s Instagram page shows the trophy in the process of being welded into it’s new glorious form.
Smith Expresses Gratitude for Family
Smith’s road back to the NFL, while incredibly inspiring, has been anything but easy for the Washington quarterback, who was just hours away losing his leg entirely back in 2018. During an interview with NBC Sports’ Peter King leading up to Thanksgiving, Smith credited Elizabeth and the couple’s three children for their role in his recovery.
“I think certainly first and foremost, grateful for my health right now and my family’s health,” Smith said on The Peter King Podcast in November.
“You realize looking back what a privileged life I led and had never really faced a challenge like that. To have a partner by my side in my wife . . . I was out of it when things got really scary. Certainly amputation was right on the doorstep, even probably hours away from it at one point. [I’m] thankful for her . . . And then the two years afterward, when I was in different states of helplessness, her strength, obviously I’m incredibly thankful and grateful for.”
With a strong showing in Week 17, Smith and company can continue their remarkable and unprobable journey to the postseason, with the potential host a home playoff game against 43-year-old counterpart Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers next weekend.
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Chris Licata is an NFL contributor covering the Kansas City Chiefs from enemy territory in Denver, Colorado. Follow him on Twitter @Chris__Licata or join the Heavy on Chiefs Facebook community for the latest out of Chiefs Kingdom!