The NFL announced on Friday that San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith would be suspended for the first nine games of the 2014 season. The length caught some of us by surprise. There were talks of 6-8 games with some a hope for 4 or fewer games. Instead, the commissioner dropped the hammer.
Several statements have been released since then. Aldon Smith released a statement on Saturday. It reads better than Josh Gordon's statement, in which Gordon criticized the NFL for not exercising better discretion and judgment in his case. While there are certain incredibly stupid aspects to the NFL's discipline of Josh Gordon (more on that in a bit), there's a certain irony to Gordon criticizing someone else's judgement. Here is Aldon Smith's statement.
"I apologize to my teammates, coaches, the entire 49ers organization and 49ers fans for not being able to contribute on the field for the next several weeks. Over the last year, I have learned a lot and I'm working hard to grow from my experiences. I want to thank my family and friends, my teammates, my union and the 49ers for supporting me during this process. I will be at work daily to participate in all permitted work activities, and to support my teammates, just as they have supported me."
49ers general manager Trent Baalke released this statement Friday afternoon:
"Our organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it as a team. Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally. We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead."
The NFLPA worked with Smith to negotiate through this process. Smith will be allowed to remain with the team through the length of the suspension. He will be allowed to work out at the facility and attend team meetings, but he will not be able to join in practice. The NFLPA released this statement:
"On Aldon's behalf, the NFLPA worked with the NFL to craft disciplinary terms that reflect Aldon's desire to take responsibility for past mistakes and show his commitment to being a dedicated professional by going to work every day to study with his coaches and teammates and train at the facility. The terms of the discipline reflect his desire to show his teammates, employer and fans that he has made real changes to his life since the difficult incidents that are the basis for the NFL's discipline."