Alex Smith defied the odds to return to the field, and now he’s walking away from it.
The longtime NFL quarterback announced his retirement on Monday, opting to step away from the game after a 16-year career during which he took snaps with the 49ers, Chiefs and Washington Football Team. Liz Smith, Alex’s wife, posted a moving video on Instagram.
Smith’s NFL stay will be known as one of the league’s most storied careers — maybe not just by production, but headlines, as well. The 2005 No. 1 overall pick spent the first six years of his career with San Francisco, underachieving as the 49ers worked through various regime changes, leading to some talk of being a bust at the selection.
Smith, eventually injured, lost his job to Colin Kaepernick with the 49ers, signing with Kansas City to a big-money deal after the 2012 season. Smith would lead the Chiefs to the playoffs four times before handing the reins over the Patrick Mahomes in 2018.
An offseason trade to Washington in 2018 eventually led to a gruesome leg injury that left Smith with a life-threatening infection and led to 17 different surgeries to repair his limb. Smith would miraculously return to the field in 2020 after nearly two years of rehabbing and recovering.
Smith retires with 199 touchdown passes to 109 interceptions, becoming one of the league’s least intercepted quarterbacks since 2011. After he won the Comeback Player of the Year award in 2020, several NFL teams were reportedly interested in Smith’s services for the upcoming season, but Smith opted to hang up the cleats instead.
By any measure, Smith’s career was memorable. The quarterback’s NFL tenure garnered praise and reverence from the gridiron world on Monday.
Congratulations, Alex Smith.
You are an inspiration.
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) April 19, 2021
Congrats on a helluva ride, Alex Smith. You’re a legend and an amazing example of anything is possible with hard work and determination. https://t.co/muN1LrjsGq
— Matthew Berry (@MatthewBerryTMR) April 19, 2021
#Chiefs HC Andy Reid was just told on a conference call that Alex Smith officially retired: “He’s a heck of a person. I told him if he gets into coaching, I’ll get first dibs on him. He’s a guy you’d love to have on your staff. A special person and one of my all time favorites.” pic.twitter.com/On3WadL8uF
— NFL Update (@MySportsUpdate) April 19, 2021
Alex Smith. An Inspiration. A legend. THE King. Congrats on retirement, #11! Thank you for letting us be a part of your incredible career 👑 pic.twitter.com/XdnDtoA1yE
— The MUSS (@TheMUSS) April 19, 2021
Patrick Mahomes on Alex Smith’s retirement: “A tremendous guy. With the injury that he had, to lead his team to the playoffs, just shows you the player he is. I’m just grateful for the time I had with him. He really helped me develop into the quarterback I am today.”
— Nate Taylor (@ByNateTaylor) April 19, 2021
One of the better storied #1 overall picks ever.
Overcame so much
— Dan Orlovsky (@danorlovsky7) April 19, 2021