When Washington quarterback Alex Smith grabbed his helmet and stepped back onto an NFL field for the first time in nearly two years, it was impossible not to get caught up in the moment.
After all, the 36-year-old grizzled veteran suffered one of the most devastating and gruesome injuries imaginable. His situation was so dire that, at one point, difficult conversations took place about possibly amputating his right leg because of infections, which led to an astounding 17 surgeries. To see what he was up against during his recovery process, Smith actually spent time with service members who had their bodies ravaged by an improvised explosive device.
Forget ever playing again. Collect the paychecks for as long as you can and focus on getting healthy enough to be able to play with your kids. Best case scenario, maybe Smith would transition into a role on the coaching staff or in the front office. That was the narrative that everyone else wrote about Smith. Amazingly, he had other plans.
Just 693 days after being carted off the field, the University of Utah standout improbably resumed his playing career. The fact that he did so for head coach Ron Rivera, who was diagnosed with cancer in August, was a much-needed moment of positivity in an otherwise awful 2020. No one would blame Disney and Hallmark for immediately getting into a bidding war for the rights to tell his story.
And yet, because happy endings only exist in movies and massage parlors, the feel-good moment ended in a violent flash, thanks to Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams. Washington amassed just 108 total yards in a humbling 30-10 defeat and are now just 1-3 on the season.