As ESPN’s weekly magazine show, E:60, prepares to grant unprecedented access to Alex Smith’s injury rehab and recovery in “Project 11,” Kansas City Chiefs HC Andy Reid and QB Patrick Mahomes are expressing support for the former Chiefs quarterback. As a veteran NFL coach, Reid has had many players in his locker room who have left an impact, but perhaps none more impactful than Smith. Reid took time to discuss Smith some ahead of Friday night’s debut:
“Injuries are part of the game,” said Reid, “But the injury that he had, it breaks your heart because you know how much he loves the game. This guy, he’s a good-looking guy, people get tied in up in the way he looks – he’s got the quarterback look – good looking guy, speaks well, does all that stuff. But underneath that is a tough, tough guy that is highly competitive and has this drive that is ridiculous. So, you know how much the game means to him. He doesn’t just play the game because of the money or how he looks in a uniform or all that stuff, he plays it because he loves the game. When a guy like that gets an injury like this that’s potentially career-ending, especially when he’s playing as well as he was, it breaks your heart, it rips your heart out. Everybody is pulling for him, his teammates are all pulling from him, I think you’ve heard that from them.
Smith played four seasons under Reid in Kansas City, earning three Pro Bowl appearances. He was traded to Washington to allow current Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes the opportunity to lead the franchise.
“If anybody can come back from it, if he wanted to come back, he’d be the guy. You look at those stinking pictures and you go, ‘Woah, how’s that going to happen?’” said Reid, “But like I said, if anybody can do it, that guy can do it. And if he chooses to go that route, we’re all pulling for him.”
Smith also had a tremendous impact on Mahomes, mentoring him from the moment he was drafted into the league. Mahomes spoke about his current relationship with Smith, and his continued support throughout the intense rehab process.
“We actually talk probably every two or three months at a time,” said Mahomes, “We’ll text and have a few conversations. Mostly it’s about how the families are doing. Building that relationship that I had with him for a year, seeing him every single day, and then getting to go out to eat with his family and him with mine, we built a great relationship. Obviously, I knew a lot of the stuff that was going on as far as the surgeries and when he had the infection and everything like that, but the perspective of seeing the actual pictures, it even increases the magnitude to me. Knowing the person and the attitude that he has, I can see that he has made so much more improvement because he has the mindset of going out there and being the best person he can be every single day.”
Mahomes also mentioned that Smith was one of the first people to congratulate him after the Super Bowl LIV victory.
”I’ve talked to him a couple times,” said Mahomes. ”I talked to him after the Super Bowl. He congratulated me and everything like that. He was one of the first text messages I got. That’s just the type of guy he is. I think he’s doing really well right now, and I can only imagine the progress he’s going to continue to make as he keeps getting after it every single day.”
Despite his intense rehab, Smith was always thinking of others, which just shows the type of person that he is.
“Project 11” premieres on Friday, May 1, at 6:30 p.m. CT on ESPN.