Alex Smith 'lucky to be alive' after serious leg infection

Two of Alex Smith's former teams will do battle in Super Bowl LIV on Sunday, but the veteran quarterback will be nowhere near the field.

Smith is still recovering from a broken leg suffered during the 2018 season, one that required multiple surgeries and, as Smith revealed Saturday on ESPN's "Outside The Lines," nearly cost him his life.

Traded to and signed by the Redskins in 2018, Smith was under center for Washington during a Week 11 game against the Texans, when he was tackled by Kareem Jackson and J.J. Watt and suffered tibia and fibula fractures. The broken right leg ended his season and required surgery, but Smith's situation grew only more complicated.

"I greatly underestimated the complexity of a broken tibia and fibula and how hard they are to heal," Smith said. "I had some unforeseen things happen."

Smith detailed to ESPN that he suffered an infection following his initial surgery and eventually dealt with sepsis. Smith added he didn't recall much of what happened between then and the decision to undergo a "limb salvage surgery to save my leg."

"I wasn't really present for any of that," Smith told ESPN's Jeremy Schaap. "You wake up and you hear that, your wife and family and doctors telling you how close you were.

"I'm very much lucky to be alive, very lucky to still have my leg. So yeah, going back to your original question, good to be here."

Smith added he has "no idea" where he stands in the Redskins organization, which has moved on from Smith, Jay Gruden and Bruce Allen and forward with Dwayne Haskins, Ron Rivera and a restructured front office. Smith said he's spoken with Rivera "multiple times" but reiterated there are "no guarantees" that he returns to football or the team.

"I'm as optimistic as ever that I can do this, that I still have it in me, that there's enough there that I can go out there and play," Smith told Schaap. "That's not guaranteed and that's the scary part is to put yourself out there and to go try to take this on and knowing that failure is a possibility.

"But [I'm] relishing that opportunity, relishing that fight. There are weeks where I feel like without a doubt I know I can and certainly there are times when I get frustrated and you're feeling off or things aren't going as well as usual and doubt creeps in. But still progressing, still moving forward and hopefully nearing a point when I find out whether I really can or not."

Smith, 35, has three seasons left on a four-year extension he signed with D.C. in 2018. Whether he'll play another down on that contract in the NFL remains to be seen, but is unlikely; NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Saturday that Smith's rehab is focused on "maintaining a good lifestyle after football, rather than attempt to get on the field."

But that won't stop Smith from giving up in his recovery

"I'm lucky to be here today for so many reasons," Smith concluded, "lucky to still be chasing this."

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