In the hours before the San Francisco 49ers took on the Indianapolis Colts, almost all of the talk was on outside linebacker Aldon Smith and his arrest for suspicion of driving under the influence that morning. Folks wondered whether or not the 49ers would deactivate Smith to set a precedent. When it was announced that Smith was at practice -- again, just hours after the accident -- many were surprised. Many were angry.
Smith ended up playing, and now there are two conflicting reports on why that was. In addition to the conflicting reports, there's also the very simple third option, which is pretty clear: the 49ers wanted to win a football game. But those reports are interesting and debated to this point.
The first point suggests that the NFL Players Association would not have argued against Smith being deactivated for the game, with the caveat that Smith had to be paid. That report was made by Pro Football Talk. The other report suggests that the NFLPA told the 49ers that they would fight the team on it if they had deactivated him, regardless of pay. That report was made by the NFL Network's Albert Breer on Friday.
So which report is correct? Other than the fact that I believe Breer is more ... reliable than PFT, I have to say the logic lines up with Breer more so than the other. The reasoning for this is simple: that's the NFLPA's job.
There's a precedent that needs to be set. The NFLPA is like a lawyer, or even a public defender specifically. They are there to do their job regardless of the situation. If they don't support the player they represent, then what good are they? There is no judgment on whether or not Smith truly deserved to be deemed inactive.
I don't know how I personally feel about the situation as a whole. I think it was a little ridiculous that he was back at practice so soon after that incident, but I'm also just glad that he's in rehab, where he may be able to fix this problem. All I know is that I believe Breer's story in that the NFLPA suggested they would fight it if the 49ers elected to deactivate Smith, regardless of pay.
It just makes sense.