NFL: Is Alex Smith the real life Shane Falco?

Sport fans love to compare and analyze. We love to compare teams from today to the teams of the past, athletes from today to those of the past. Sometimes we even compare current athletes to movie athletes. Now, it is very tough to do this at times because many sport movies are based or inspired by true stories and events; but when a fictional sport movie comes around, sports fans can’t help but compare the star to the superstar. I’ll admit, I do this myself. I did after the first time I watched The Natural (still working on an answer).  After recently watching The Replacements, I began to think about what current NFL quarterback would be Shane Falco? My answer, Alex Smith.

First off, if you haven’t seen The Replacements make sure you go see it. Its an excellent movie that features Gene Hackman and Keanu Reeves and is about a bunch of former rugged athletes who are given a second chance playing football during a league lockout. The movie shows how the team grows and begins bond as one; and in the end overall succeed and win the last game to put the team into the playoffs (which is basically these replacement players’ championship game). The movies main character is Shane Falco, who is a washed up QB who played college play at Ohio State University and excelled until choking in the Sugar Bowl against Florida State, losing by 45 points. Having a short stint in the pros, Falco, or as they call him “Footsteps Falco” struggles knowing with the fact that he messed up his career. We see Falco’s character grow throughout the film, watching him go from an un-confident, discourage QB to the team’s leader, wanting the ball for the last play. In the end, Falco wins. He completes the hail-mary at the end of the game, earns the respect of all his teammates, and even kisses the cheerleader at the end of the game.

I know what your are probably thinking, there is no way Alex Smith is the real life version of Shane Falco. You’re probably thinking its definitely Tony Romo because of their rawness as a QB, or Joe Flacco because of the natural strong arm and of the course the similar last name. No. Alex Smith is the answer. Going back to high school, Smith was always a winner. The California native led his team to 2 Section Championships and a 25-1 record as starting QB as a high schooler, along with help of Miami Dolphins running back Reggie Bush (little known fact). After high school, Smith took his talents to the University of Utah where he became a college star. While a Utes, he won a Fiest Bowl and Liberty Bowl, was the MWC Player of the Year, and a Heisman Trophy nominee in 2004. Smith then went on to be selected #1 overall in the 2005 NFL Draft by San Fran. From that point on things began going downhill. In his first year in the pros, Smith threw 1 TD and 11 INT’s. He also dealt with 3 different offensive coordinators in his first 3 seasons, making it hard from him to find his place in the NFL and show what kind of player he is. You could see the struggles through his performance and it made it clear that it was jeopardizing his job.

Like Falco, Smith was a college star that excelled and then once got to the pros struggled to discover his game. Like Falco, Smith was able to figure out his game, the second time around. In 2011, with Jim Harbaugh hired as head coach and Smith named starter, we were able to get an idea of exactly what kind of player Alex Smith really was. We are able to see his rise to greatness in the 2011 season, leading a rugged, hard nosed 49ers team to a 13-3 record; with 5 of those victories being come from behind wins. Like Falco, Smith earned the respect of his teammates through his leadership and gutsy performances. If leading your team to 5 come from behind victories isn’t enough to earn respect in the locker room then I don’t know what is.

The heroics and leadership carried on into the playoffs leading his team the NFC championship game. I think we really saw Alex Smith’s “Flaco Moment” in last years NFC Divisional Playoff game against the Saints. Alex Smith showed his toughness, leadership, and just all out guts during that game, with an unbelievable 28 yard run by Smith in the 4th quarter. Smith earned the respect of all after his epic last minute drive to win the game, just Like Falco. Alex Smith proved to overcome his struggles and prevail while doing it on a national stage for everyone to see. Like Flaco, Smith proved he was a leaders and just an overall good guy. How do you root against a team guy, who does whatever he can to help his team as long as they win?

Unlike Falco, Smith did not win the last game of his season. Smith did not get to win his championship like Falco but he is definitely making a strong case for the 2012 season. Leading his team, whom some say to be the best team in football, to a 3-1 record heading into Week 5. Will Alex Smith ever be just like Shane Falco and win the last game of the season? It remains to be seen.

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