Veteran quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday, bringing the curtain down on a 16-year career that saw him battle back from a life-threatening leg injury.
The 36-year-old former number one draft pick, who was released from the Washington Football Team last month, confirmed his decision in a video posted on Instagram.
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“Even though I’ve got 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,” Smith said in the video.
Smith played eight times for Washington last season, completing a remarkable comeback after suffering a compound fracture to his right leg in 2018 that would eventually require 17 surgeries.
At one stage during his recovery, a flesh-eating bacterial infection almost cost Smith his life and nearly required the amputation of his leg.
“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 Monday.
“Putting my helmet back on was the farthest thing from my mind. I kept asking myself, ‘All this for a stupid game?'”
Smith led Washington to five wins and one loss in his six starts last season, helping the team to the NFC East title.
His return earned him the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award in February but he was nevertheless released by Washington the following month.
Smith said Monday he hoped to spend more time with his family in retirement.
“I’ll take a little time to enjoy a few of those walks with my wife, and my kids have no idea what’s coming for them in the backyard,” he said.
Smith was chosen with the top pick in the 2005 draft by the San Francisco 49ers, spending eight seasons with the team before joining Kansas City in 2013. He spent five years with the Chiefs before joining Washington in 2018.