LOUDOUN COUNTY, Va. - Two members of the Washington Football Team took home honors during the 2021 NFL Honors award ceremony.
Quarterback Alex Smith was named the AP Comeback Player of the Year, while defensive tackle Chase Young was named AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Each athlete is the first Washington player to win their respective awards.
During the 2020 season, Smith made his first NFL appearance since suffering a gruesome leg injury that nearly cost him his life in 2018. In his final five starts of the season, Smith went 5-0, leading Washington to its first division title since 2015.
"Playing this game takes a physical toll and there are so many guys that are deserving of this recognition," Smith said during his NFL Honors speech. "Two years ago I was sitting in a wheelchair wondering, had the life I had known changed forever? Anger, pity, self-doubt. Why me? These were feelings I had had at certain points throughout my career, but this time it wasn't about football. It was bigger. It was about me being a father to play with my children, a husband to go on walks with my wife and, despite my new limitations, me getting my life back.
"My goal is football, not because I actually thought it was a reality, but because I knew my life would be better because of it. Fighting the fear surrounding my new leg with the pursuit of something bigger and a life lived without regret. It took 728 days. 728 days of small victories and major setbacks, of countless hours of physical therapy and just as many sleepless nights."
Young earned his honor after leading all rookies in sacks (7.5). He also had 44 tackles, 12 QB hits, 10 tackles for loss, four passes defended, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and scored one touchdown.