SALT LAKE CITY — When people say history repeats itself, they might use the new documentary on former University of Utah quarterback Alex Smith’s inspiring recovery from a gruesome leg injury and infection as evidence.
It’s almost “Twilight Zone” eerie how closely Smith’s situation resembled what happened to Joe Theismann almost four decades earlier.
A graphic that made the rounds on social media following the documentary’s debut last Friday highlights many of the coincidences between Smith and Theismann, who was interviewed for the hour-long show.
Those Smith-Theismann similarities include:
Theismann: broken right tibia and fibula
Smith: broken right tibia and fibula
Theismann: Nov. 18, 1985
Smith: Nov. 18, 2018
Theismann: Washington Redskins
Smith: Washington Redskins
Theismann: Redskins’ stadium (RFK Stadium), Washington, D.C.
Smith: Redskins’ stadium (FedEx Field), Washington, D.C.
Theismann: Near the 40
Smith: Near the 40
Theismann: 3-time Defensive Player of the Year Lawrence Taylor
Smith: 3-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt
Left tackle situation
Theismann: Pro Bowl left tackle Joe Jacoby off the field because of injury
Smith: Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams off the field because of injury
Though some of the circulating memes showed even more similarities — claiming both injuries happened on the 39-yard-line, for instance — a writer at OddSportsStories.com did a Snopes-like investigation of the shared facts and showed that not everything that was shared was fully accurate. For one thing, Theismann reportedly appeared to be sacked on the 41, while Smith was at the 37.
Another truth-stretching fact: Taylor didn’t win his third DPOY award until the following season (1986). Though the Hall of Famer was credited with the sack on Theismann, Kareem Jackson was the one who sacked Smith with Watt coming in to assist.
There could be another huge difference.
In the documentary, Smith made it clear he wants to play again — something Theismann was unable to do. And Theismann went on radio — speaking with 106.7 The Fan’s Grant Paulsen and Danny Rouhier recently — and said he believes that just might happen.
“To see the things he’s been able to do, since the end of the documentary, I just ... at first I thought 95-5 that he’s done. Now, I’m not so sure,” Theismann said. “I’m leaning 80-20 that he may make a comeback. He’s got three years left on his deal. He hasn’t played in a couple years. He’s not a Lamar Jackson, Kyler Murray run around type of quarterback. He operates out of the pocket extremely well. He’s a great game manager.”