NFL commissioner Roger Goodell met with fans and media Saturday afternoon, and we got a little bit of clarification from him about Aldon Smith's situation. According to the commissioner, Aldon Smith's decision to enter rehab would factor into any potential league discipline:
"The issue here is not to discipline players. The issue here is to stop the behavior. And Aldon, to your point, has voluntarily said, 'I need help.' We are obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get that help. And so we all support that. So, yes, it will be factor, for sure."
Smith was arrested for a DUI last month, and has since spent the last five weeks in rehab. This is his second DUI arrest over the last two years. He also faces three felony gun charges related to the 2012 house party that has become quite the fiasco.
It is worth noting that from a league discipline perspective, these issues fall under two areas. There is the league's substance abuse policy, and there is the league's personal conduct policy. Any suspension related to the substance abuse policy could happen before the gun charges are resolved. Any suspension related to the personal conduct policy would wait until the gun charges are dealt with in court.
My guess at this point is that any suspension would take place in 2014. It is possible Aldon Smith could return to action this season and face a suspension at the end of the year, but I just have a hunch this will end up bundled together in some form or fashion. The rehab will factor in, but depending on the resolution of the gun charges, it is not going to be the only factor in a potential suspension.
We still don't know enough about the gun charges, so it is hard to say, "well, he is facing X games suspension." After all, as socalisteph has repeatedly pointed out (dubious weapons charges & star treatment), there are a lot of factors in play related to the gun possession charges. Depending on how that case plays out, there might not necessarily be a personal conduct-related suspension in the future. We just don't know at this point.