San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Aldon Smith has been instrumental in the team’s recent turnaround. In his first two seasons, the team went 24-7-1 in the regular season, winning two NFC West Division titles, making two NFC Championship appearances, and a Super Bowl appearance. During this time, Smith set a NFL record with 33.5 sacks, including a franchise rookie record (14) and a single season record (19.5). The fastest player in NFL history to record 30 sacks through just 27 games, he was awarded NFC Defensive Player of the Year as well as his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro designations.
All of this could potentially become a distant afterthought.
Already on an indefinite leave while undergoing rehab for substance abuse, stemming from an arrest for suspicion of DUI and possession of marijuana, Smith now faces more criminal charges that could put his career on hold.
Last Wednesday, Santa Clara prosecutors announced the former Missouri Tiger would be charged with three felony counts of illegal weapons charges. This is fallout from a 2012 party held at Smith’s home, where two people were shot and Smith was stabbed. Authorities found rifles, magazines, and ammunition during a search of Smith’s California home. None of the weapons were registered in the state of California. In addition to the felony charges, the two injured guests are filing civil lawsuits against Smith.
Knowing how important it was to get his personal matters in order, he voluntarily entered rehab following the 49ers’ Week 4 27-17 loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Understanding the severity of the latest revelations, it was wise to make the decision to surrender himself to authorities at the end of the month. The faster the situation is resolved, the faster he could be back on the field. That may be optimism talking.
If convicted on the weapons charges, he could face a little more than 4 years.
The NFL will have a say in his return as well. In accordance with the personal conduct policy, a suspension is looming in addition to the legal process taking its course.
The team had already planned on continuing without Smith as he was taken off the active roster and placed on the reserve/non-football injury list. It is almost a sure thing that Smith will not be playing again this season. Hopefully, things work out for the All-Pro linebacker, as he begins to get his personal life in order. If not, that Week 4 game could possibly be his last for a very long time.
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