Alex Smith documentary: 3 takeaways from ‘Project 11’


ESPN aired an hour-long documentary on Friday night detailing the career of NFL quarterback Alex Smith and the truly horrific nature of the leg fracture that has kept him out of the field for the past 18 months.

Here are three suggestions from production E: 60, "Project 11" (Smth used number 11):

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His situation was worse than the outside world knew

November 18, 2018 will forever be rooted in Smith's mind. In the Redskins' week 11 game against the Texans, J.J. Watt and Kareem Jackson agreed to fire Smith in the third quarter. The blow broke Smith's leg in two and immediately ended his season. Two days after the game, Washington coach Jay Gruden said Smith's recovery time it would be six to eight months after surgery.

MORE: Smith's injury was moving to watch, says Joe Theismann

As we now know, Smith did not even come close to returning within that period. The injury became much more disgusting after Smith almost had to amputate his leg because of meat-eating bacteria. Doctors found that Smith was suffering from necrotizing fasciitis.

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Smith's wife, Elizabeth, said in the documentary, "He is septic and is essentially dying. We are being inundated with medical language. Family, friends, everyone is very excited."

Redskins team doctor Dr. Robin West, who performed the surgery, told Smith's wife that if she were in Smith's situation, she would make the decision to amputate her leg.

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Smith was not a star, but he was better than many who gave him credit for

Smith played under the expectations of a number one general choice in the draft, and it is fair to say that he did not live up to those expectations. But Smith was a quality player in the NFL. He went 19-5-1 as a 49ers starter under Jim Harbaugh before getting injured in week 10 of the 2012 season. He didn't get his job back at Collin Kaepernick, who took San Francisco to Super Bowl 47.

He was negotiated with the Chiefs in 2013 and then took them to the playoffs in four of the five seasons. However, Kansas City had the future MVP Patrick Mahomes waiting, and few league defenders could keep Mahomes on the bench. The Chiefs left Smith for the Redskins in March 2018.

Before getting hurt, he took the Redskins to the top spot at NFC East with a 6-3 record. Washington ended the 2018 season on 7-9 and then fired five games for Gruden in the 2019 season, en route to ending with the league's second worst record (3-13).

Smith's return to football remains doubtful

Smith said in the documentary that he hopes to play in the NFL again. Before "Project 11", this seemed like a possibility. He wouldn't be the first athlete to recover from a horrible leg injury, right? After having an internal view of the 17 surgeries he had since the injury, it is easy to imagine if this is possible.

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Your leg is almost unrecognizable as a human appendage. He received authorization from the US Secretary of Defense to consult with military doctors and found war veterans who suffered similar injuries in combat. Not to mention, Smith will turn 36 on May 7. Only a handful of active NFL quarterbacks are 36 or older, and none have experienced a recovery that compares to Smith.

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The resilience that Smith demonstrated is incredible, but taking another pressure in the NFL would rival the greatest returns in the history of the sport.

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