After five long years on the NFL’s indefinite substance-abuse suspension list Aldon Smith was reinstated by commissioner Roger Goodell today. Originally drafted by the 49ers out of Missouri in 2011, Dallas will be hoping he can return to his previous wrecking ball status.
A major impact player off the edge, Aldon Smith wracked up 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons in the league, along with five forced fumbles, four passes defensed, and an interception. He still holds the record for the fastest player to reach 30 sacks in the NFL, at 27 games.
Aldon Smith has had a bumpy road
Smith has had the way cleared for his return thanks to two important recent factors. The first is that he has been sober since July last year. The second is the leagues new policies with regard to substance abuse punishments in the newly agreed CBA.
While these are good signs, and potentially give the Boys an in house replacement for the recently departed Robert Quinn, Smith is still on thin ice with the league. One more mistake and he will be suspended again, because he is still subject to the disciplinary processes under which he was originally suspended.
The road will also be trickier for Aldon Smith, because substance abuse was not his only issue. He has been involved in domestic violence charges, hit and run, resisting arrest, and making claims about carrying a bomb at LAX.
Most of the incidents seem to centre around the main substance-abuse issues he has had, but they raise some flags. Smith has not been involved in any incidents since he has been clean, and this is definitely a positive sign moving forward.
Questions will remain over whether the game will be too quick for Smith after five years out of the league, especially given his lack of consistent training or respect for his body during most of this period. Smith currently weighs in 15-20 pounds heavier than he was five years ago.
All of that said, if Aldon Smith gets back on the field this season he has the potential to be a majorly disruptive factor. Even as his production declined in his last years in San Francisco and one season in Oakland, he managed 14 sacks in 27 games.
That was despite multiple arrests and incidents during those turbulent years.
“Last year, my grandma passed. My life wasn’t where I wanted it to be. She got a message to me: ‘Go out there and get what you deserve.’ That, and me surrendering to the problem I had with drinking … It was time. I got to a point where I was fed up with how I was living my life, and I knew I needed to change.”
We wish Aldon Smith all the best with his return, and fingers crossed he can make an impact for the Cowboys on the field this season. But more importantly let’s hope he can make an impact off the field as well.