Quarterback Alex Smith, who rebounded from a severe leg injury suffered in 2018 that sidelined him until the 2020 season when he worked his way back into the Washington Football Team's starting lineup, was selected as the 2020 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, chosen in voting conducted by the Professional Football Writers of America (PFWA).
Smith started the first 10 games of the 2018 season and completed 205 of 338 passes for 2,180 yards with 10 touchdowns and only five interceptions. On Nov. 18, 2018, in a game against Houston, Smith suffered a spiral fracture in his right leg when he was tackled. A severe infection took hold after he was taken to the hospital for surgery, which endangered his life. He went through 17 surgeries over a nine-month period to save, and later repair, his leg. He endured an arduous physical therapy regimen as he recovered and made a goal to return to the NFL.
He returned to Washington's roster for the club's 2020 training camp and finally got back on the field vs. the Rams on Oct. 11, completing 9 of 17 passes for 37 yards. He replaced an injured Kyle Allen in the Nov. 8 game vs. the Giants and threw for 325 yards and a touchdown. The next week, he started his first game since 2018 on Nov. 15 at Detroit. He completed 38 of 55 passes for 390 yards against the Lions -- all career highs. He played eight games with six starts in 2020, and he completed 168 of 252 passes (66.7 completion %) for 1,582 yards and six touchdowns.
Smith is the first member of the Washington franchise to receive Comeback Player of the Year honors since the award was instituted in 1992.
PFWA COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
- 1992 – QB Randall Cunningham, Philadelphia Eagles
- 1993 – RB Marcus Allen, Kansas City Chiefs
- 1994 – QB Dan Marino, Miami Dolphins
- 1995 – QB Jim Harbaugh, Indianapolis Colts
- 1996 – RB Jerome Bettis, Pittsburgh Steelers
- 1997 – WR Robert Brooks, Green Bay Packers
- 1998 – QB Doug Flutie, Buffalo Bills
- 1999 – DT Bryant Young, San Francisco 49ers
- 2000 – DE Joe Johnson, New Orleans Saints
- 2001 – RB Garrison Hearst, San Francisco 49ers
- 2002 – QB Tommy Maddox, Pittsburgh Steelers
- 2003 – QB Jon Kitna, Cincinnati Bengals
- 2004 – RB Willis McGahee, Buffalo Bills
- 2005 – WR Steve Smith, Carolina Panthers
- 2006 – QB Chad Pennington, New York Jets
- 2007 – WR Randy Moss, New England Patriots
- 2008 – QB Chad Pennington, Miami Dolphins
- 2009 – QB Tom Brady, New England Patriots
- 2010 – QB Michael Vick, Philadelphia Eagles
- 2011 – QB Matthew Stafford, Detroit Lions
- 2012 – RB Adrian Peterson, Minnesota Vikings
- 2013 – QB Philip Rivers, San Diego Chargers
- 2014 – TE Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots
- 2015 – S Eric Berry, Kansas City Chiefs
- 2016 – WR Jordy Nelson, Green Bay Packers
- 2017 – WR Keenan Allen, Los Angeles Chargers
- 2018 – QB Andrew Luck, Indianapolis Colts
- 2019 – QB Ryan Tannehill, Tennessee Titans
- 2020 – QB Alex Smith, Washington Football Team.