Aldon Smith’s decision to go to rehab could work in his favor when the NFL decides whether it should suspend him for his issues off the field.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell explained that Smith’s treatment for alcoholism will be considered in any decision the franchise makes, explaining, “Yes, it will be a factor, for sure.”
Smith entered rehab on September 23, three days after he was arrested for drunken driving for the second time since he entered the NFL in 2011, reports ESPN.
He played in the 49ers’ loss to the Colts two days after the arrest, which caused criticism that the team would allow him to play. However, the 49ers believed ti was in Smith’s best interest to be with his team. After that, he checked himself into a treatment center, and has had encouraging results.
Goodell added of Aldon Smith’s possible punishment, “Certainly, the issue here isn’t to discipline players. It’s to stop the behavior. Aldon has voluntarily said, ‘I need help.’ We’re obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try and get help. We support that.”
The team’s manager, Trent Baalke, and coach Jim Harbaugh expressed optimism that Aldon Smith could return to the 49ers before the end of the 2013 season, though they aren’t sure yet, notes The San Francisco Chronicle.
Baalke explained that the organization needs to see “progress” and develop a “trust factor” with Smith before he can return to the field. Along with DUI charges, Smith was also recently charged with three felony counts of possession of an assault weapon.
While no punishment has been handed out yet, analysts still have several potential scenarios for what could happen with Aldon Smith. It is possible that the 49ers player will see a reduced game suspension, a fine, or no further discipline, depending on the outcome of Smith’s rehab stay.