Former Utah Quarterback Alex Smith Announces Retirement


(From left to right) Tony Bergstrom, Alex Smith and Chase Roullier of the Washington Football Team in a game against the Atlanta Falcons on Nov. 4, 2018. (Courtesy Flickr)

By Ethan Pearce, Assistant Sports Editor


Former University of Utah quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement from the NFL on Monday. Smith played three seasons at Utah from 2002–2005, and was the first overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Smith played 16 seasons in the NFL for the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Football Team. 

At Utah, Smith led the Utes to wins in the 2003 Liberty Bowl and 2005 Fiesta Bowl. He finished with a 21-1 record as a starter, was named the 2004 Mountain West Conference Player of the Year and finished fourth in voting for the Heisman Trophy that same season. All of this led to Smith being selected first overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the draft following the 2004 season. 

Smith did not make his first playoff appearance until the 2011 season, when he led the 49ers to a 13-3 record and a first round bye. They advanced to the NFC Championship game that year and lost to the New York Giants, 20-17 in overtime. Smith lost his starting position with the 49ers to Colin Kaepernick due to multiple injuries and Kaepernick playing well while Smith was out. Smith was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs following the 2012 season.

With the Chiefs, Smith made the playoffs four times and helped mentor rookie Patrick Mahomes in 2017. Mahomes became the starter the following season, and the Chiefs traded Smith to the Washington Football Team to clear the way.

In his first season with Washington, disaster struck. On Nov. 18, 2018, in a game against the Houston Texans, Smith was sacked and suffered a gruesome leg injury. A compound fracture and ensuing complications put Smith in danger of losing his playing career, his leg, and even his life. He underwent 17 surgeries and many assumed that he would never be able to return and play football again. He missed the entire 2019 season as he continued rehab, intent on not only being able to walk again, but eventually being able to return to the field to play football.

On October 11, 2020, Smith made his return and played in his first game since the injury, relieving the injured Kyle Allen in a game against the Los Angeles Rams. He played in eight games that season, starting six of them and helping the Football Team make the playoffs. He sat out their only postseason game, but Smith’s inspiring return from the injury that nearly took his life was more than enough to lock up the NFL’s Comeback Player of the Year award. 

Smith finishes his career with three Pro Bowl appearances, five playoff appearances and one of the most inspiring stories in the history of the NFL. 

“Even though I’ve got plenty of snaps left in me, after 16 years of giving this game everything I’ve got, I can’t wait to see what else is possible,” Smith said in a video posted to Instagram

Whether he was suiting up for the Utes, Niners, Chiefs, or Washington Football Team, Smith proved that anything is possible with hard work and dedication. His comeback story echoes in the minds of athletes around the world dealing with injury as a reminder to never give up. 

“Football wouldn’t let me give up. Because no, this isn’t just a game,” Smith said. “I want to say thank you for believing in me, and thank you for helping me believe in myself. And, in the impossible.”


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