Good People around Aldon Smith

Aldon Smith“This is a day that doesn’t have anything to do about football. … Although he won’t be playing football for the San Francisco 49ers, he will be supported and helped, and he will not have to walk this path alone.” — 49ers coach Jim Tomsula

Aldon Smith has finally been released. After multiple chances and numerous counseling sessions I am sure, this exceptional linebacker has been shown the door. Over recent years, he has been charged with three DUI’s, causing property damage (vandalism), hit-and-run, assault weapons charges and a motor vehicle accident as the result of alcohol.

This is not my first rodeo; in my opinion, I would hazard he’s been caught driving under the influence by sympathetic police officers on more than one occasion where he was never charged; I would guess a lot of good people have smoothed things over out of loyalty and protection as well.

By all accounts, his teammates have remained in his corner as have his coaches and many others in the team’s infrastructure. In a sport often criticized for a lack of compassion and only violence, a lot of good people have tried to reach him. I have seen people in the corporate world, supposedly a more enlightened world, who were thrown away for much lesser problems.

When he awakens from his bad choices, he should thank everyone who has stuck out their neck for him.

“Simple as this: Justice will be served, the truth will come out, there’s no DUI. I’m sorry for anybody I let down, I’m sorry for the way this whole thing . . . this wasn’t a DUI…”

– Aldon Smith

Then what was it?

The police arrested him for a DUI and hit and run a few nights ago and Aldon Smith has denied it. In the light of that denial he was released from the team. He has good people rushing to his defense (again), wanting us to believe he is merely a troubled young man trying to work things out.

It is great to have such friends, but you are not helping him. It is time to let the young man fall. If he falls hard, so be it. There are consequences to bad decisions and no one in this life is immune from them.

He is young, that is true, but not that young. I know of several young men and women wearing different kinds of uniforms, who sacrificed greatly before the age of 25, including a dear friend of many years past, whose name is on a memorial. So let us not overplay the “young card” too much.

I would like all of his defenders to conjure up an image: a young man, driving under the influence slamming into a car driven by your parents, your son or daughter, niece or nephew or spouse or your best friend. I am not going to turn this into a public service announcement, I am only asking you to visualize such a scene without a lot of mock outrage and posturing at the question I pose. And when, my friends, does a young man become a man?

I do agree that Aldon Smith is troubled. I would also agree that despite his profession, after three DUI’s he should be treated no differently than any other young (or old) man or woman committing the same infractions.

On the field he is a phenomenon; off the field he is a citizen.

We can all pull for him and hope and wish for him, but ethically he must take full responsibility for what he has been doing to himself and those who care for him. It is time for the hand-wringing to stop, and the defenders to step aside.

On the street, and under the influence, or committing any other unlawful act he is not a football player who needs maturing. He is a young man who needs to own up to what he is doing and HE needs to take the steps necessary to stop.

He does need to walk the path alone. “We” can point him in the right direction, we can even suggest mentors, but he is the one who must find his way back home. It is the ethical way.


Chuck Gallagher, President, Sports Ethics LLC

(828) 244 – 1400




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