After a 16-year NFL career that included playoff appearances, Pro Bowls and an improbable comeback, quarterback Alex Smith announced his retirement via Instagram on Monday.
"Even though I've got plenty of snaps left in me," Smith said, "after 16 years of giving this game everything I've got, I can't wait to see what else is possible."
"We want to congratulate Alex Smith on a tremendous career," Dan and Tanya Snyder said in a joint statement. "He accomplished the greatest comeback in professional sports history and was a huge part of our team's success this past season. Since the day Alex arrived here in Washington, he has represented this organization with class and dignity both on and off the field. We witnessed every step of Alex's comeback first-hand and he personifies perseverance, strength and the will to never give up. The support he received from his family, friends, teammates and club medical staff throughout his comeback journey was truly unmatched. We will always be touched by the strength, courage and support that Elizabeth and their family showed throughout Alex's recovery and comeback. We wish the Smith family all the best in the next chapter of their lives."
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 NFL Draft, Smith finished his illustrious career with 35,650 passing yards, 199 touchdowns compared to 109 interceptions and a 99-67-1 record as a starter for the San Francisco 49ers, Kansas City Chiefs and Washington Football Team. He made three Pro Bowls and seven playoff appearances, including this past season when he was named NFL Comeback Player of the Year.
Smith's magical 2020 campaign was never supposed to happen after a gruesome leg injury resulted in life-threatening complications. But 693 days after being carted off FedExField, not knowing if he would ever play again, Smith returned against the Los Angeles Rams in Week 5. He ended up playing in eight games (six starts) and helped lead Washington to its first NFC East title since 2015.
"I want to congratulate Alex Smith on a great career," head coach Ron Rivera said in a statement. "He was the ultimate professional and one of the finest leaders I've ever had the privilege to coach. His resilience and work ethic will serve as an example for our team as we continue to build a winning program here in Washington. He is an inspiration to me personally and to the countless others who followed his journey these past few years. I wish Alex and his family all the best as they embark on this next chapter of their lives."
Long before starting 166 NFL games, Smith was a two-star recruit, the No. 39 dual-threat quarterback in the country and the No. 137 recruit in California. It was not until he went to Utah -- his only FBS scholarship offer -- that he burst onto the national scene, winning Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Year and finishing fourth in Heisman Trophy voting as a junior. The San Francisco 49ers ended up selecting Smith first overall, kickstarting a long, successful career that has shaped who he has become.
Now it is time for Smith, 36, to continue his life off the field with his wife, Elizabeth, and their three kids. But he won't forget the memories and friends he made along the way.
"This isn't just a game. It's not just what happens between those white lines on a Sunday afternoon," Smith said. "It's about the challenges, and the commitment they require. It's about how hard and how far you can push yourself. It's about the bond between those 53 guys in the locker room and everybody else in the organization. It's about fully committing yourself to something bigger. And most of all, it's about you."
"So to everyone out there, whether you're a part of Niner nation, the Chiefs kingdom or the burgundy and gold, I thank you."