Aldon Smith’s DUI Arrest: A Stand the San Francisco 49ers Needed to Take

730_20120128170813623_660_320Double standards are obvious around the world of the National Football League. The Seattle Seahawks refuse to take action against those who have been popped for PED use, but will gladly release a third-string quarterback in Josh Portis after a DUI arrest. The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t take internal action with the whole Ben Roethlisberger situation, but had no problem releasing Chris Rainey after his off-field issues.

The message is strong and etched in stone. “If you are vital to our success as a team, you will get away with criminal activity off the field. If not, we will bid you adieu.”

Like it or not, that’s just the way it is.

The San Francisco 49ers are no different. When Demarcus Dobbs was arrested late last season on suspicion of a DUI, San Francisco quickly made the decision that he wouldn’t make the trip with the team to St. Louis. Dobbs, as a backup defensive linemen, may be somewhat crucial to the depth of the 49ers, but he’s no Aldon Smith.

Which brings me to my next point.

Smith was arrested Friday morning on suspicion of a DUI after crashing his car into a tree at 7 AM in the morning, rush-hour traffic in Santa Clara County. Authorities reported that Smith blew a blood alcohol level of .16, which is twice the legal limit for the state of California. The reports from the scene were alarming.


Other reports indicate that Smith was at a nightclub and living it up with teammate Anthony Dixon the night before his arrest. This is alarming for a number of different reasons. First, NFL players have an anonymous car service at their disposal. They can call up a number on the back of their NFLPA card and request that a car pick them up from wherever they might be drinking. Even if a player doesn’t want to call the service, I am pretty sure he has the money to fork over for a cab.


Driving drunk has to be one of the most selfish crimes a person can commit. Not only did Smith put himself at risk, he out others he doesn’t even know at risk. He did so during Friday rush-hour traffic in Santa Clara County. He did so double the legal alcohol limit.

San Francisco’s response?



While it is up to the NFL to suspend Smith, which will likely come when he faces DUI charges in early November, the 49ers’ organization needed to take a stand here. They needed to act like the class of the league, which they have been calling themselves for some time now. Smith’s arrest represents the fifth time a player within their organization has been popped for a DUI since Jim Harbaugh took over as head coach. This doesn’t even take into account Smith’s incident at a house party last year when he was stabbed and wielded a gun or Ahmad Brook’s fight with Lamar Divens who was trying to stop him from driving drunk.

It’s more of a pattern in San Francisco than anything else. Once considered a coach who ran a tight ship, Harbaugh seems to be lacking in the discipline aspect of his job. This could also be evidenced by the 49ers leading the NFL in penalties after two weeks.

But I digress.

San Francisco should sit Smith for its important matchup against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It would send a message that the no one in the organization can literally get away with a crime and still suit up just a couple days later. It would also send a message to the other 31 teams that San Francisco is the organization that it bills itself as. An organization that won’t allow a winning mentality to cloud what has to be considered moral shortcomings off the field. That it will not go down the all-too-familiar “win at all cost” path.

San Francisco Chronicle writer Ann Killion summed it up best

The arrest happened at 7 a.m. On a workday. Two days before a critical game. An hour after quarterback Colin Kaepernick was probably hitting the weights at the team facility.

Yet Smith was at practice later in the day, and afterward Harbaugh said that he expected Smith to “be back to work and playing on Sunday.” Didn’t even waver or hedge when he said it.

Killion continued…

If Smith steps on the field on Sunday, here’s the message the 49ers will give to Smith and the rest of their players: We don’t care what you do if you perform on the field. We don’t really care if you’re not “above reproach.”

It’s the idea that what San Francisco’s preaches on a consistent basis may in fact be for nothing more than show. After all, Harbaugh did go off on a bit of a rant directed at the Seattle Seahawks PED issues in the offseason.

I’ve definitely noticed it… You don’t know what it is. Even when people say what it is, you don’t know that that’s what it is. I’ve heard this thrown out or that, but that’s usually the agent or the players themselves saying it’s, for example, Adderall. But the NFL doesn’t release what it actually is, so you have no idea. You’re taking somebody at their word that I don’t know if you can take them at their word, understanding the circumstances.

In what now has to be considered a laughable statement, Harbaugh continued…

You want to be above reproach, especially when you’re good, because you don’t want people to come back and say, ‘They’re winning because they’re cheating.

Are you really “above reproach,” Mr. Harbaugh? No, it seems that double standards run rampant within your organization and you could care less. It seems that the signal you are sending to the San Francisco Bay Area community and the 49ers fan base is that you could care less what players do off the field, as long as they are contributing on the field. After all, Smith has recorded the most sacks in the history of the NFL for a player in his first two NFL seasons and has a legitimate shot at breaking the single-season sack record this year.

Why not let the NFL take care of it? Why not attempt to sweep it under the rug and pass the responsibility off to a league that has 31 other teams to govern? Just don’t expect those of us who cover the team to remain quiet when your double standards come out in an glaring way.

We won’t.

Vincent is the head sports editor at eDraft, co-host of eDraft Sports Radio (which airs every Monday and Wednesday from 3-6 p.m. ET) and a fantasy writer for Pro Football Focus. He’s also the news director here at PFC and co-host of Football Debate Central with Ryan Riddle every Friday. He’s also a former league-wide featured columnist at Bleacher Report.

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  1. ShanePennington says
    Aldon Smith could not be suspended by 49ers under CBA; consensus is get Smith to treatment once they get thru weekend. Help the young man.

  2. ubwarndchrome says

    per league rules 49ers cannot suspend aldon smith until the league takes action. so your article is invalid and also part of what is wrong with society, no news just opinions.

  3. Vincent, what you write is mostly true, but it is also true in every walk of professional life in the world. People at the top of companies always get away with more, regardless of what business the company performs. If you want to write about a crime against society, take on the bankers that recently crippled our country’s economy and had zero consequences.