Despite the fact the San Francisco 49ers have a storied franchise and continue to be title contenders after three trips to the NFC Championship game, the off-season reports of misconduct have been embarrassing.
The latest incident involved Aldon Smith, who was arrested Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport and booked on charges of making a false bomb threat. Per an LAPD spokesperson, Smith was selected for secondary screening while going through security at the airport and became "belligerent and uncooperative" with a TSA agent.
Perhaps Smith got upset because he felt he was being racially profiled? Who knows if he spouted out a jackass remark out of frustration? Maybe he felt like the TSA agent was trying to make things difficult? To anyone who's been through a TSA search process, those random selections don't always feel random. It can be belittling.
In any event, Aldon Smith is in the news and it's caused a flurry of speculation as to what is next for the young talented linebacker. And, of course, people bring up the laundry list of his past transgressions, a list he was forgiven for just a few short months ago.
Last month, Jed York was asked about Smith's progress:
"We're going to be very supportive of Aldon and know if he needs anything, we're here for him," York said. "We want to make sure he continues to work through this. But I think it's literally one day at a time and we're there for him. But we also don't want to be too in his face and make it more stick than carrot."
Perhaps, the carrot is not quite working? 49ers legend Ronnie Lott has said that maybe certain types of people need more tough love. Maybe Smith can use some guidance.
Aldon Smith strikes me as a kid with a chip on his shoulder. I do not think Smith is a bad person, but he's not terribly sophisticated when handling difficult situations. As people age, people learn from their mistakes and use life skills to form judgment. Even when we make mistakes, we are supposed to learn from them and make better decisions down the road. Smith seems to lack some of these skills. Certain people learn differently, mature at a different pace and some never do, but it doesn't mean Smith can't become the player we want him to be. After all, this is not the first time we have seen a knucklehead in the league get reigned in by a team.
Dallas Cowboys wide receiver Dez Bryant knew that there would be serious consequences to continued bad behavior away from the football field. In order to help Bryant steer clear of said behavior, the Cowboys put into place a set of guidelines regarding his conduct away from the field. Bryant had to agree to avoid alcohol and strip clubs, abide to a midnight curfew and attend two counseling sessions each week. There was also a rotating three-man security team that left one man with Bryant at all times. The person was also responsible for driving him to games and practices.
Essentially, a grown man was treated like a child with no choice but to follow a directive.
Guess what? Tough.
If you're going to act like a delinquent, you should be treated like one. Get Aldon a babysitter. If he doesn't want the 49ers to suspend him, he will realize this is a necessary step. He can earn his privileges back with progress. Maybe Smith needs a dose of reality every now and then, so he doesn't forget how lucky he is to have an unparalleled talent.
I do not know if Smith lacked direction growing up or if he is struggling with an addiction, but I believe he can excel at something countless athletes have never accomplished.
If the 49ers are the franchise who takes pride in who they are, they need to step up and work with their prodigal children, as it were. Help the man. After all, an organization is only as strong as its weakest link.