San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith has been keeping a fairly low profile in the month since his incident being arrested for false report of a bomb threat at Los Angeles International Airport. Earlier this week however, he took some time to chat with Matt Maiocco and CSN Bay Area. The last couple of Golden Nuggets have mentioned it, and I figured I'd weigh in with a few comments.
We couldn't really expect a lot of detail in his comments because his legal situations remain on-going. The LAX incident is still being investigated by the Los Angeles City Attorney as they weigh whether to file misdemeanor charges. His weapons possession/DUI case is in the middle of the preliminary court process. He is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Wednesday, May 21, although that date is due to a continuance. It is possible we'll hear of a plea deal in the near future, but for now we wait.
It does not appear Matt's chat with Aldon was recorded for video. The link above includes video of Matt discussing the interview. The article itself features a few quotations from Aldon.
“I’m a good person, and the people who know me know I’m a good person ... Maybe after this is over, you can tell your friends I’m a good person. Anybody who hangs around me can tell that. A lot of these things are being painted in a picture that’s not true.”
Some will disagree with Aldon's self-assessment, but personally, I think we're looking at a guy who does not seem like a bad person, but rather someone who's made some stupid decisions. At times it seems like he has tried to figure things out and get his mind right. We saw it last fall when he went to rehab. We don't know where his substance abuse issues currently stand, although we do know this kind of thing is a life-time struggle. It is different for each person, with some moving past it with relative ease, and others having a day-to-day struggle to remain sober. It's a spectrum of recovery, and we'll never really know for sure where Aldon stands in that.
He talked briefly about his 17-month old son, and if anything is going to help him get mature and realize his decisions have consequences, I would hope his son would do that. As with everything else though, we really are simply left to wait and see how this all plays out for him.
The 49ers elected to exercise his fifth year option earlier this month. While this shows a certain level of support, it also does not provide a final answer to anything. From a football and business perspective, they had a lot of reasons to pick up the option. They know that there is a certain amount of flexibility in how they handle that option year moving forward. If Aldon gets in trouble again, they can part ways with him and that option can simply go away. If Aldon stays out of trouble, the extra year buys them time to see that, and potentially work on a contract extension next year. I can't imagine he'll get a contract extension this year, even if he ends up walking with no jail time on the guns/DUI case.
That's something for the team to consider, but really, it's about how he approaches his life moving forward. A lot of people avoid jail time for their mistakes, but continue to make stupid mistakes. Plenty of people are sort of "born under a lucky star", where they continually get in trouble, but manage to avoid the consequences. We'll just have to wait and see how things progress over the next year or two.
My guess is if he stays out of trouble heading into 2015 training camp, maybe they work on contract negotiations at that point. I could see some negotiations next summer, but given how trouble often happens during the offseason, I have to think they want to see that full offseason of Aldon keeping his nose clean. If they want to sign him to an extension, they won't know for certain what the future of that deal will hold, but they'll need to have some kind of track record on which to base their decision for a big money deal.