With three games left to play, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith can practically taste the NFL's single season sack record. We all know that Smith has broken the record for most sacks by any player in his first two seasons, and we know that Michael Strahan's record (more accurately: Jared Allen's record if you think Strahan is a phony, like I do) is so very close to being broken.
When they announced that Smith was the choice at No. 7, I know a lot of us flipped out. It wasn't that people thought Smith was a bad player or that he couldn't possibly pan out, it's just that few knew much about him. He wasn't exactly unknown, but he also wasn't really on the fans' radar.
It's great to see how far he's come for a short amount of time, but I will say that I was worried for a different reason just recently. I was worried about Smith due to all of the negative attention he'd been receiving in the media. When it comes to playing on the field, nothing can be quite as disastrous to that ability like off the field exploits.
Smith was stabbed at a house party, linked to being "jumped" (refuted, but the implication is still bothersome), pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, and was involved in a one-car accident in the early hours of the morning.
In short, a lot has happened to our emerging star of a linebacker, and while much of it has been good, those issues took center stage more than once.
Fortunately, all this positive media attention around the sack record seems to be doing Smith some good. With the news that Smith is donating $5,099 for each regular-season sack this year to the Boys and Girls Clubhouse in San Francisco, Smith could donate about (or more than) 10 percent of his salary for 2012.
Smith has also recently said that he's "trying to handle things the right way," in regards to his new-found fame, as noted by Kevin Lynch of SFGate.
Color me impressed, if still a little nervous. A lot of things happened to Smith in such a short time, I'm just hoping that he'll be able to take all this positive media attention and his obvious greatness and turn that into a very long career in San Francisco with minimal off the field issues on the side.
That too much to ask? Let's hope not!