Months after winning NFL Comeback Player of the Year, Alex Smith has announced his retirement following a 16-year career. The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Smith ends his career on his own terms after a devastating leg injury sustained in 2018 threatened to make that decision for him.
A three-time Pro Bowler, Smith underwent 17 surgeries after sustaining a compound leg fracture. But despite the severity of his injury, as well as a grueling rehabilitation process, Smith returned last season and posted a 5-1 record in helping lead Washington to the NFC East division title. And despite multiple teams reportedly interested in signing him, Smith has decided to call it a career.
"Two years ago, I was stuck in a wheelchair, staring down at my mangled leg, wondering if I'd ever be able to go on a walk with my wife again or play games with my kids in the yard," Smith said in his retirement video. "Putting a helmet on was the farthest thing away from my mind. … But then, someone did something that changed my recovery completely. He put a football back in my hands. I don't know what it was, but all of a sudden, I felt stronger, more driven, and what once seemed impossible began to come into focus.
"Over the course of my life, that's what this game has done for me."
Smith compiled a 101-72-1 overall record as a starting quarterback. A member of the 49ers from 2005-12, Smith helped lead San Francisco to an NFC title game appearance in 2011. The Chiefs quarterback from 2013-17, Smith earned three Pro Bowl selections while helping the Chiefs make five consecutive postseason appearances. Last season, Smith completed nearly 67% of his passes while helping Washington win its first division title since 2015.
A standout at the University of Utah, Smith completed 62.3% of his passes for 35,650 yards with 199 touchdowns and 109 interceptions in 174 regular-season games. He retires 27th all time in passing yards, just ahead of Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly.
"To everyone out there, whether you're a part of Niner Nation, the Chiefs Kingdom, or the Burgundy and Gold, I thank you. To all the men I had the privilege of standing with and playing alongside, thank you. I want to say thank you for believing in me, and thank you for helping me believe in myself and the impossible. Because even though I still have plenty of snaps left in me, after 16 years of giving this game everything I've got, I can't wait to see what else is possible."