The Oakland Raiders patience finally ran out with linebacker Aldon Smith after reports he fled the scene of a domestic violence incident. Smith’s release comes almost two and a half years after he last played his last down in Oakland.
Smith seemed to thrive with Oakland.
Throughout his troubled career, Smith had difficulties with alcohol and other legal tangles.
Smith first violated league’s substance abuse policy during his second year with the San Francisco 49ers. The 49ers released him after numerous alcohol and criminal related charges in August of 2015. A full timeline of his troubles can be found at the Sporting News.
Smith was still considered an elite talent despite his issues. Due to his potential, General Manager Reggie McKenzie took a chance the culture of the Raiders locker room, which featured strong veteran role models like Justin Tuck, and Charles Woodson, could help Smith focus and turn his career and life in a positive direction.
In the beginning it seemed like the McKenzie’s gamble was working. By the time the league suspended Smith, for the prior off-season incident, Smith had regained his form and was second in overall quarterback pressures and had registered 3.5 sacks in seven starts at the time of his suspension. According to reports, he had his demons in check, and was a positive influence on the team. This prompted McKenzie to offer him a solid, but risk free, two year deal.
The troubles continue.
Being on the NFL’s Stage Three substance abuse protocol, a player has no risk for error and is strictly in a zero-tolerance situation. A player can be tested at random and without notice up to 10 times per month. Should a player fail to comply or be caught in a drug related incident, that player is then banned for a minimum of one year. Smith was banned from the NFL in November 2015, which meant at the earliest he could return was November of 2016. Smith seemed to be on track, until he posted what looked to be a marijuana joint on his Instagram feed in July of 2016. The league investigated the incident and, and when Smith had his meeting with the league office late in 2016, he was denied reinstatement at the time and told the league office would review it in March of 2017.
As March 2017 rolled around, all reports indicated that the league was going to reinstate Smith. Unfortunately, Smith relapsed and was detained for public intoxication on March 8th. He was still under the influence (see video below) when he spoke to reporters the following day. That incident prompted the league to keep Smith banned indefinitely. However, the Raiders, and McKenzie, continued to hold out hope that Smith would get the help he needed.
The final straw.
Smith’s final straw came this past weekend when he was allegedly involved in an alcohol- induced domestic violence incident. Reports say he fled the scene and that police were searching for him after the domestic violence call was made.
Smith is yet another sad tale of a young man losing his fight with his own demons. Hopefully Smith – the man – is able to get his life back together. Addiction will be a lifelong battle for Smith.
Smith’s downfall and continued struggles serve as a stark but necessary reminder to other NFL players and young men in and out of sports.
No matter how good you are on the field, you are still mortal and subject to all the difficulties life can throw at you. Unfortunately, Smith has an uphill battle ahead as he will have to focus on cleaning up his life as his football career appears over for good.