Aldon Smith, a linebacker with the Oakland Raiders, is officially suspended for one year, sans pay, after another drunk driving incident.
Smith was suspended from the Oakland Raiders for violating the league’s policies on substance abuse. He was drafted by the 49ers in 2012. In 2013, the linebacker missed five games while he was in rehab. In 2014, he sat out for nine games for behavioral issues and violating league policies on substance abuse.
The combination of his previous absences and his one year suspension will mean that he will have missed 30 games during his four-season career. All these missed games are the result of off-field issues.
Right now, Aldon Smith cannot play football with the NFL until November, 17 2016. The latest suspension follows an arrest for DUI in early August. The arrest was Smith’s fifth since 2012.
Smith’s behavior off the field also caused him to be released by the San Francisco 49ers in early August.
He then signed for one year with the Raiders shortly after and was due to receive a $1.25 million base salary and a $250,000 per-game bonus. He also would have received a $2.75 million bonus if he managed to get a minimum of 10 sacks this season.
Smith is only 26-years-old and will be 27 by the time he returns to the field. He is still primed to have a productive career in the league if he can stay out of trouble. Though he has been arrested several times, he has never been convicted of a crime.
Unfortunately, five arrests is enough to cause any team in the league worry.
When the San Francisco 49ers signed Smith only a few years ago, he was a promising young linebacker. His talent was attractive to the team. Until signing Smith, the 49ers had the second lowest number of sacks in the league.
Smith is only two days into his year-long suspension. At the moment, it seems that the Raiders will welcome him back in 2016. Sources close to the player suggest that the Raiders are the team that Smith wants to return to football with.
The Raiders also liked Smith as a player. Although his performance lately has suffered, undoubtedly from off-field performances, he remains a valuable player for the team. So valuable that the Raiders plan to welcome him back after the suspension is over.
Smith is allowed to apply for reinstatement in September of next year. But if he comes back to the team, he will be required to take part in regular drug testing.
However, reinstatement is not easy. Year-long suspensions are a hard road for professional players. It will require Smith to get the support he needs and conquer his demons. The feelings may be mutual now. But reinstatement is not guaranteed, especially if he cannot clean up his act.
The sentencing is controversial in some circles. The NFL’s past punishments have not always fit the crime. The league attempted to change this recently by threatening to suspend Tom Brady.
The league has struggled to create sensible discipline for players in the league. Some believe that the NFL loves the drama that ensues after a prominent player is caught misbehaving. This became a major issue for the NFL during Tom Brady’s DeflateGate.
But unfortunately, Smith’s behavior demonstrates a pattern. He does not have four Super Bowls to back him up when his behavior is less than the best. Though both Smith and the Raiders may be confident now, fans can also be confident that Smith may have played his last professional game.
[Photo By: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images Sport]