Alex Smith Suffers Gruesome Injury 33 Years After Joe Theismann’s

On the 33rd anniversary of Joe Theismann’s career-ending knee injury, Alex Smith, the veteran quarterback of the Washington Redskins, left Sunday’s game against the Houston Texans with what appeared to be an equally-devastating injury to his right ankle.

Smith, who started the season 6-3 after coming over from the Kansas City Chiefs in an off-season trade, had dropped back to pass in the third quarter, when he was wrapped up by Kareem Jackson and then hit head-on by J.J. Watt. As Smith crumbled to the ground, his right foot caught on the turf, twisting awkwardly. His legs shot into the air, with his foot bent at an unnatural angle that was immediately reminiscent of the knee injury Theismann sustained on Nov. 18, 1985 as a result of a hit by Lawrence Taylor of the Giants.

Theismann, whose injury is among the most notorious in N.F.L. history, was in attendance at the game and immediately commented on the play on Twitter.

I feel so bad for him.

The Redskins have yet to announce the extent of Smith’s injury, but it appeared to be serious enough that it could end the quarterback’s season, which would be a terrible blow for the Redskins, who came into the day leading the N.F.C. East.

Smith, 34, has had a long and winding career since being selected by the San Francisco 49ers with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 draft. His first six seasons were a mess of forgettable play and injuries, but he had his career resurrected under Coach Jim Harbaugh, and over the last eight seasons, his record as a starter, for San Francisco and Kansas City, was 75-34-1.

Despite having perhaps his best season statistically last year for the Chiefs, Smith was traded to make room for Patrick Mahomes, the young quarterback who has emerged as a likely candidate for the N.F.L.’s Most Valuable Player Award. Mahomes has consistently cited his time working under Smith for giving him a smooth transition to the N.F.L., and head of Kansas City’s much-anticipated matchup with the Los Angeles Rams on Monday, Smith was in Mahomes’s thoughts.

Colt McCoy took over at quarterback for the Redskins after Smith’s injury.

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