Aldon Smith: Talented and Troubled
The topic of Aldon Smith is an interesting case of someone who has fallen victim to his own vices. He’s a talented, athletic, and phenomenal player and is touted as one of the better pass rushers in the game today, but he is as flawed as anybody else when it comes to what he’s gone through off of the gridiron. He has been arrested an alarming five times throughout his short career:
- He was given a DUI January 28, 2012, in Miami Beach, FL.
- A party that happened at his residence on June 30, 2012, resulted in gun shots when Smith was attempting to break up a fight and was rumored to have suffered stab wounds. The charges were delivered on October 9, 2013 as he was given three felony counts of illegal possession of an assault weapon that were later reduced to misdemeanors.
- On September 20, 2013, he was involved in a single vehicle accident that resulted in him being arrested on possession of marijuana and suspicion of being under the influence.
- On April 13, 2014, he (and this is the most ridiculous one) said that he was carrying a bomb when he was at LAX.
- And finally, he was involved in a hit and run, driving under the influence, and vandalism charges.
On Thursday he was arraigned with a probation violation charge that only affects his reputation of legal issues even further. His last arrest resulted in him being released by his former team, the San Francisco 49ers.
For a player that came from the same draft class as other first round pass rushers such as Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller, three-time defensive player of the year JJ Watt, and other pro bowlers like Robert Quinn, Ryan Kerrigan, Cameron Jordan, and Muhammad Wilkerson, Smith appears to have fallen behind all of his peers because of his off the field woes.
However, looking back at what he did in his first two seasons he was arguably the best defensive player from his class. Not only did he finish half a sack shy of tying Jevon Kearse’s single season rookie sack record of 14.5, but he also broke two of Reggie White’s records for fastest to record 30 sacks in a career and most sacks in a player’s first two seasons. He finished his second season tying Fred Dean’s single season sack record of 17.5 and picked up Pro Bowl and First Team All Pro honors.
But his struggles with getting on the field due to legal troubles didn’t seriously affect him until the 2013 season, when the former Missouri product was given his third arrest. He finally attempted to do something about it by going to rehab after the third week of the season, and didn’t return until the tenth week of the season against the Panthers. His reputation was severely dampened over the course of these arrests, but he wasn’t awarded his first league suspension until his arrest at LAX when he was served a nine game suspension for the 2014 season. He wasn’t able to produce the statistics he usually put up and only recorded two sacks during the season.
His final arrest was the result of a reported spat that he and Colin Kaepernick had over the fact that Kaepernick was with Aldon Smith’s ex-girlfriend. This resulted in his reckless behavior and later release from his former team. The former seventh overall pick signed with the Oakland Raiders on September 11, 2015, for a one-year deal. He was able to produce 3.5 sacks with the team before being issued a one year suspension for his arrest earlier that year on November 17, 2015. Because of this, he won’t be able to play until the Monday Night Football game against the Houston Texans (Week 11).
The problem with the former All Pro isn’t a matter of playing ability, as he is loaded with talent. It’s just a matter of him not getting into trouble. He’s missed 21 of a possible 80 games that he could have played in. If he just takes the time during his suspension to help himself out and get better mentally, then he might finally get back to the player that he was before his suspensions began to plague his career.