The veteran quarterback announced his retirement on Monday after returning last season from a life-threatening leg fracture.
“Two years ago I was sitting in a wheelchair, staring 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. Putting my helmet back on was the furthest thing from my mind,” Smith narrated in a video that featured shots of him rehabbing from the compound leg fracture he suffered on a sack on Nov. 18, 2018 against the Texans.
The extent of the injuries to Smith, 36, led to life-threatening necrotizing fasciitis that resulted in sepsis. The Washington quarterback required 17 surgeries.
Smith returned last season and played in eight games, helping to lead Washington to the NFC East title and winning the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year Award. A calf injury, though, prevented him from playing in the team’s wild-card loss to the Buccaneers. Washington released Smith earlier this offseason and there seemed to be some interest in free agency for potential backup roles.
“Then on a routine play, I nearly lost everything,” Smith continued in the video that was posted to Instagram. “But football wouldn’t let me give up because I know this isn’t just a game, not just what happens between those white lines on a Sunday afternoon. It’s about the challenges, the commitment they require, it’s about how hard and how far you can push yourself and the bond between the 53 guys in the locker room.
“Even though I have plenty of snaps left in me, after 16 years of giving this game everything I got, I can’t wait to see what else is possible.”
After starring collegiately at Utah, Smith was the No. 1 pick of the 49ers in the 2005 draft. He started 174 games in his 16-year career for the 49ers, Chiefs and Washington.