Washington Redskins quarterback Alex Smith suffered perhaps the worst injury of the 2018 season last November after he was awkwardly sacked, snapping his right leg.
The injury was eerily similar for Redskins fans, who — exactly 33 years prior — watched quarterback Joe Theismann suffer the same fate.
Theismann, who played in the league from 1974-1985, broke his fibula and tibia after he was sacked by New York Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor in a similar fashion, an injury that ended his career.
When Smith went down last fall, Theismann was actually in the stands at FedEx Field — and he knew instantly that Smith’s injury was exactly like his.
“I was there that night,” Theismann said Wednesday on the NFL Network’s “Rapsheet and Friends” podcast. “As soon as it happened, they happened to have a camera angle from behind. Now, it took me 20 years to see mine, but then all of a sudden with Alex, I saw this camera angle from behind him. And I looked at it and turned to [my wife] Robin and said, ‘That’s exactly like mine.’”
Smith suffered his leg injury against the Houston Texans after he was sacked in the backfield. He was carted off the field and rushed to a local hospital for emergency surgery on his broken fibula and tibia, ending his season and marking the beginning of a long rehab process that’s been full of complications.
“He came very, very close to losing his leg,” Theismann said on the podcast. “Fortunately he still has it.”
Nearly nine months later, thinks are looking up for Smith. He had the external fixator — a bulky metal halo attached to his bone that surrounded the outside of his leg, which kept it in place so it could heal properly — removed from his right leg this week, too, marking a major milestone in his recovery.
It’s highly unlikely, however, that the 35-year-old plays at all this season in Washington. According to Theismann, he “for sure” won’t see the field, even though he’s itching to get back out there.
Theismann, though, recommends Smith play the long game. After the injury he sustained, there’s no reason to rush back.
“The problem is gonna be the healing process. How long does it take?” Theismann said on the podcast. “My advice to him would be ... let's see how you feel one year from now.
“I think he wants to [play], I know it, but I'd say it's gonna be a long road.”
Still, Smith said he’s ready for the battle to get back to playing in the NFL.
“I’m looking forward to it, I’m excited about that challenge,” Smith said. “The stronger I get every week, the more I do, the more hopeful I am that that’s a real possibility.”
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