Alex Smith's Gruesome Leg Injury Became 'More Comparable to a Military Blast'

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorMay 2, 2020

LANDOVER, MD - NOVEMBER 18: Alex Smith #11 of the Washington Redskins runs with the ball during the game against the Houston Texans at FedExField on November 18, 2018 in Landover, Maryland. The Texans won 23-21. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffered a horrific leg injury in November 2018 after being sacked against the Houston Texans and endured a painful and life-threatening recovery.

On Friday, ESPN aired a special edition of E:60 called Project 11, and Smith's wife, Elizabeth, provided new insight into her husband's recovery. 

After Smith underwent his initial surgery, Elizabeth said he developed an infection of flesh-eating bacteria. In order to save her husband's life and his leg, the doctors had to go in "every single day" in order to cut out the infection and ensure it was gone.

The resulting surgeries made the quarterback's injury "more comparable to a military blast":

"As I'm sitting there watching the infection move up his leg, I'm just trying to make sure that my husband's life is not in danger. I understand now, from the doctor's perspective, had they amputated at the time, it would've been above the knee. And it's a different quality of life whether you amputate above or below the knee.

"Thankfully, the necrotizing fasciitis never gets above his knee. Alex still has his leg ... well, what remains of it.

"After eight debridements, Alex has this completely exposed tibia. He has no anterior compartment. He is missing everything from his knee to his ankle and from side to side. The way the doctors explain his situation is Alex no longer has a sports injury. He has what would be more comparable to a military blast injury."

Stephania Bell @Stephania_ESPN

“He no longer has a sports injury, he has what would be more comparable to a military injury...a blast injury” @NFL QB Alex Smith consulted with medical experts at the Center for the Intrepid #Project11 @E60 https://t.co/BeUanZsd7k

Smith had 17 surgeries and four hospital stays that lasted nine months, but he hopes to play football again.   

E60 @E60

When @Redskins QB Alex Smith broke his leg in 2018, no one thought it would take 17 surgeries to fix. Here’s a look at #Project11 https://t.co/lwcj1l0fV6

"Obviously there's part of me asking: 'Is it worth ever doing that again? Do you know what we just went through?'" Elizabeth said. "But, I know at the end of the day this is his fight—physically, emotionally and mentally. I want him to have something to fight to get back to. And I support him."

Washington Redskins @Redskins

That moment Alex Smith held a football for the first time after his life changing injury. A look at @e60’s #Project11 https://t.co/aqm8QuWeYr

Smith has played 13 NFL seasons (2005-07 and 2009-18) with the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Redskins. He holds a 94-66-1 record as a starter and has completed 62.4 percent of his passes for 34,068 yards and 193 touchdowns. He's also added 2,601 rushing yards and 15 scores on the ground.   

The 49ers took Smith first overall from the University of Utah in 2005.