Veteran quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement via Instagram on Monday morning, brining an end to a 16-year NFL career that was filled with a myriad of highs and lows.
The former #1 overall pick of the San Francisco 49ers, Smith spent much of his career residing in the shadow of draft counterpart Aaron Rodgers, who was taken 23 picks later by the Packers. Many referred to Smith as a “game manager” someone that provided solid leadership and rarely put his team in a position to lose a game.
Alex Smith Heads to Kansas City
When Smith was acquired by the Kansas City Chiefs for a second round pick back in 2013, I was horrified. My partner Noah Gronniger and I recorded a podcast called “Same Ol Situation” looking back at the Chiefs’ history of piecing together a roster with cast-off quarterbacks. I likened Smith to Elvis Grbac, Steve Bono, Matt Cassel etc. And you know what…I was wrong.
Smith helped steady the ship for the Kansas City Chiefs following the tumultuous Scott Pioli/Todd Haley/Romeo Crennel era. He won 50 games over 5 seasons and led the Chiefs to their first playoff win since 1994. In 2017 he was the NFL’s highest rated passer, meanwhile he was helping mentor a kid that was a few months away from taking his job. As frustrating as it was that those teams did not compete for championships, hindsight should help us understand just how important Smith was during those years.
Career Threatening Injury
November 18th, 2021. Alex Smith’s Washington Redskins are 6-4 heading into a game with the Houston Texans. Smith’s life would never be the same again as he suffered a devastating spiral fracture that would threaten his leg and his life. A grueling recovery would land him back on a football field in 2020, marking one of the most inspirational comebacks in sports history. He was unanimously voted as NFL Comeback Player of the Year which is so deserving that the award should just be named after Alex.
So today, as Alex Smith bids adieu to his football career, I find it incumbent upon me to say thank you. Thank you for inspiring millions of people with through your dedication and will. Thank you for proving me wrong during your time in Kansas City and thank you for helping usher in the Patrick Mahomes era with class and dignity.
You see, Alex Smith is what sports are really all about. We’ll never know who Alex Smith voted for in presidential elections. He maximized his potential through a tireless work ethic and complete dedication to succeed. He is a family man that seemed to find a perfect balance in life. He never snapped at media, the fans or his coaches. He was never featured on the news for throwing shoes into the crowd or getting pulled over with an illegal substance. He represents what we love and admire about sports and for that, we should all say thank you.