Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith said in an ESPN interview Saturday that his 2018 leg injury almost led to amputation and that he’s “lucky to be alive” after battling the life-threatening infection he experienced in the aftermath.
In a November game last season against the Houston Texans, Smith was tackled by J.J. Watt and Kareem Jackson, causing him to suffer a compound fracture in his right tibia. The bone penetrated the skin in the injury, significantly increasing risk of infection because it was such an open wound. As a result, Smith suffered sepsis, a life-threatening condition the body undergoes when fighting infection.
“I had a pretty serious infection … they had a lot of complications with it,” Smith told ESPN’s Outside The Lines. “I’m lucky to still have my leg.”
Smith recounted being faced with another life-altering decision after weeks of being sedated while medical staff staved off the infection.
“Next thing I remember is waking up several weeks later faced with the decision of amputation or limb salvage at that point,” Smith recalled.
Ultimately, Smith chose to save his leg and rehabbed rigorously for over a year. He said he’s “so thankful for everyone that’s had a hand in this (recovery) — My wife, kids, and family and doctors and nurses and PTs and trainers and so many people that have helped me to be sitting here.”
While he was uncertain if he’d be able to “walk normal,” Smith said he feels an NFL comeback now doesn’t seem that far off after he missed all of the 2019 season. The 35-year-old is still under contract through 2022.
“There’s enough there that I can go out there and play,” Smith said. “I need to prove that I can come back and play quarterback in the NFL.”