Sometimes, the football gods work in mysterious ways.
Why else would Alex Smith of the Washington Football team and Logan Ryan of the New York Giants find themselves involved in the pivotal moment of their game?
They had both been through life’s wringer, Smith for two years with a shattered leg, an injury that nearly cost him his life, and Ryan for a week in which his wife almost lost her life.
And with the game between New York and Washington on the line, the gods decided to thrust them right in the middle of it.
Ryan is a safety, signed as free agent to a one-year contract that was a sort of feeling-out arrangement to see if he and the Giants were a comfortable fit. He had played at New England and Tennessee but he grew up in New Jersey and went to school at Rutgers so the Giants seemed a natural landing place
And then came his wife’s emergency.
Smith is a quarterback, a former No. 1 draft choice, who logged time in San Francisco and Kansas City before landing in Washington, which was searching for a new look on offense.
And then came the broken leg.
After a game in early November, Ashley Ryan, pregnant with the couple’s third child, complained of severe stomach pain, so severe that Ryan called the team trainer. “Get her to the hospital,’’ he was told. The diagnosis was an ectopic pregnancy. The baby was lost but surgery saved Ashley Ryan’s life.
On that day, 36-year-old Alex Smith was Washington’s backup quarterback, back in the NFL two years after he suffered a gruesome leg injury, an injury that seemed certain to end his career. There were 17 surgeries, an infection that had doctors considering amputation. His life hung in the balance.
Logan Ryan’s wife and Alex Smith both survived, and their teams met on a gorgeous autumn day in November. And when Washington’s starting quarterback Kyle Allen suffered a dislocated left ankle, Smith was thrust into action. He engineered a Washington comeback from a 20-3 deficit that included a 68-yard touchdown pass, his first TD pass since the injury.
Then, with less than two minutes left in the game, Smith, who passed for 325 yards, threw one more time and there was Ryan, wearing cleats with his wife’s name lettered on them, waiting for the ball. It seemed appropriate that two players who had gone through so much should decide the outcome of the game.
The football gods must have wanted it that way.
Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire