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What Alex Smith’s return to the Washington roster meant to those who know him

Washington quarterback Alex Smith (11) throws the ball during practice at the team’s NFL training facility, Tuesday, Aug. 25, 2020, in Ashburn, Va.
Alex Brandon, Associated Press

Before Washington’s 27-17 comeback win against the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday, Alex Smith completed a comeback of his own.

Smith, who survived a harrowing leg injury that nearly claimed his life, completed his comeback to the NFL and was placed on Washington’s 53-man active roster. Smith has been practicing with the team and eventually clinched a roster spot. He was warming up before the game on Sunday.

People that have been around Smith were ecstatic he made the roster. ESPN gathered quotes from them when the news came out that Smith earned a spot and completed his remarkable comeback.

Former Utah coach Urban Meyer, who coached Smith at Utah, told ESPN he “loves (Smith) like a son.”

“You get emotional because you love him like a son. ... On a scale of 1 to 10 on intelligence, toughness, competitiveness, spirit, mobility and arm strength, he’s a 10 on everything. Work ethic. Incredible leader. I think the world knows after that documentary how tough that guy is. He’s one of the toughest I’ve been around. Not weight room toughness, but fourth-and-1 toughness. There was one game I ran him 20-plus times against BYU in a blizzard. He’s a tough guy,” Meyer said.

Doug Smith, Alex’s father, was emotional after hearing the news.

“Liz (Alex’s wife) called Friday night (Sept. 4) and said, ‘They’re going to keep him.’ A lot of happiness, real joy for him. At that point, if you had to talk about it, you’d cry. ... The whole journey was quite emotional,” Doug Smith said.

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who was in the same draft as Smith and played against him in a Cal-Utah game in 2003 and in the NFL, was thrilled to see Smith back on the roster.

“Yeah, I’m just really proud to know him. I was asked by a few people, you know, like, ‘What is he doing?’ And I thought I’d be doing the same thing. When you’re a competitor and I know Alex is; I’ve known it for a long time, obviously just the drive that he has. He’s been a great face of this league for so many years. I’ve enjoyed competing against him ... I hope he gets an opportunity to play this year,” Rodgers said.