The San Francisco 49ers and Aldon Smith learned on Friday that the outside linebacker will be suspended for 9 games due to violations of the substance abuse policy, and the personal conduct policy. According to multiple reports, the appeal process was rolled into this whole timeline, and so the appeal process is in fact final. Aldon Smith will serve his 9-game suspension, and that is that.
There are a few interesting tidbits coming out as we have learned about this suspension. The most notable is that there was in fact a negotiation by the NFLPA. According to Ian Rapoport, Aldon Smith will be allowed to remain at the facility during the 9-game suspension. He will not be able to play, but having him there in a structured environment is important. Trent Baalke and Jim Harbaugh have both indicated Smith has made strides in his personal life. Having him barred from the facility because of the suspension would have potentially opened the door for a setback. Keeping him with the team is one positive to come out of this. Additionally, it allows him to remain in shape during the suspension.
Last fall, Roger Goodell said he would factor in Smith's rehab stint when determining punishment. Ed Werder tweeted this out shortly after the news came down:
The five games Aldon Smith missed last season while voluntarily seeking assistance for alcohol abuse did not impact his punishment— Ed Werder (@Edwerderespn) August 29, 2014
Either Roger Goodell was a liar last fall, or the LAX incident potentially factored in more than many anticipated. There was one report that a witness thought Smith had been drinking. Nothing ever seemed to come of that, but given how this has gone down, I have to think that somehow factored into this decision. We probably will never know for certain, but that makes the most sense of this. Andrew Brandt tweeted about how the NFL emphasizes patterns of behavior. If they were not pleased with the LAX development, it would make sense that they would drop the hammer.