Aldon Smith Update: Star Linebacker Takes Voluntary Leave of Absence to Seek Treatment

UntitledUpdating a story from earlier today, San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is taking a permanent leave of absence from the team to seek professional help for alcohol abuse. 49ers’ owner Jed York, speaking in the locker room after their 27-7 loss to the Indianapolis Colts, had the following to say…

To sit somebody down while paying him didn’t seem like appropriate punishment.

York later continued…

I believe Aldon wants to tackle this problem and we’re going to do everything we can do to help him with this.

Ambiguity remained immediately following the game, as some reports indicated Smith was suspended indefinitely. Instead, he is seeking voluntary (whatever that means) help for alcoholism.

In case you have been under a rock for some time, Smith was arrested early Friday morning in Santa Clara County, California after crashing his car into a tree. A subsequent sobriety test indicated that Smith was two times over the legal alcohol limit. It is his second DUI offense since joining the NFL back in 2011. Smith also had an altercation at a house party last year that resulted in him being stabbed and possible gun charges down the road.

This is an unprecedented move by both the player and the team. One of the most valuable defensive players in the NFL entering alcohol rehab in the middle of the season. Correct me if I am wrong, but this could be a groundbreaking move from an organization that had previously drawn criticism for the way it has tackled off-field issues in the Jim Harbaugh era.

There will be a ton of time to dissect this from a football standpoint, but for now it’s all about getting Smith help. Substance abuse and alcoholism is much larger than the game of football. For San Francisco to stand by, and help Smith find sobriety, could help lead the charge around the NFL moving forward.