Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith has been suspended for one year without pay under the NFL’s substance-abuse policy, the league said Tuesday.
In September, Smith, 25, pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor counts of hit-and-run, drunken driving and vandalism, charges that stem from an alleged Aug. 6 incident.
“Under the terms of the policy, Smith will be eligible to apply for reinstatement no sooner than 60 days before the one-year anniversary of the suspension,” the NFL said in a statement.
This was not an unexpected blow to a team that sorely needed pass rushers. Aldon Smith is one of the most puzzling cases I’ve seen in a while. Maybe San Francisco is a toxic environment, seeing as he wanted out so bad that he even went as far as shouting “bomb” in an airport. That’s the only explanation I can think of for his behavior. People also criticize him for charging people for mega parties at his house, but hey, at least he’s frugal. Those aren’t free. In all seriousness though, given his crime spree, the Raiders had to see this coming. Per Adam Schefter, they will be sticking with him:
The #Raiders are going to stick with Aldon Smith through his suspension, I'm told. They were expecting this to come down.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) November 17, 2015
This is actually a bad thing for Smith. He had an opportunity to get help, but someone who wants to improve themselves doesn’t stay a short drive away from where all of his enablers are. I hope I’m wrong (because although he is a Raider, he’s also a human being) but he hasn’t shown that he wants to improve himself.
While it is easy to laugh at a Raider getting his due, this is emblematic of a bigger problem in the league. No, Smith has not been a model citizen, but, while not ok, most of his offenses have only hurt himself. With the exception of the DUI and hit and run, these have largely been “victimless” crimes. Granted, I do actually buy the whole ‘NFL players are role models” argument. Still, is doing drugs really being less of a role model than beating a woman? Greg Hardy got 4 games for throwing his girlfriend onto a couch covered in AK-47s and doing this to her. The NFL is time and again sending a dangerous message. It would be one thing if this were an isolated situation. If the NFL didn’t know the scope of Greg Hardy’s actions, maybe this wouldn’t be that big of a deal. The NFL has been doing this since long before I’ve been a fan however. It seems that for every Josh Gordon that is filtered out of the league, a Frank Clark is drafted. Ricky Williams had his career ruined for pot, but Brandon Marshall is still catching touchdowns. Ben Roethlisberger is still a hero, yet Von Miller has the ‘knucklehead’ asterisk next to his name for the foreseeable future. Goodell has established a culture, in the most popular sport in the country, in which pot is taken more seriously than serious domestic abuse. If the head of any other multi-billion dollar entertainment company was operating in this way, he’d be fired immediately. The owners love him though, so the rules don’t apply to Goodell. The NFL won’t change until we see a culture change, and that starts at the top. Roger Goodell, like Aldon Smith, has once again proven that he can’t stop making the same mistakes, and the commissioner has long overstayed his welcome.