Aldon Smith Suspension Only Raises Further Questions

By Anthony F. Irwin
Getty Images
Getty Images

Here we go again.

Aldon Smith of the San Francisco 49ers has reportedly been suspended for nine games of the 2014 season, a punishment that further supports NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s detractors. As I wrote earlier in the week, the seeming randomness of his punishments sends the wrong message to fans.

Don’t get me wrong, Josh Gordon and now Smith deserve their punishments, but Goodell needs to be more transparent when dolling out said suspensions. Smith’s list of transgressions is embarrassing to say the least. They include three felony charges of possession of illegal assault rifles, misdemeanor DUI and an alleged bomb threat that resulted in no criminal charges. The DUI was the second of his career.

So, Commissioner Goodell, how is it all those criminal charges mean less in terms of football punishment than Gordon’s most recent failed drug test? While punishment comparisons are always apples-to-oranges, how is it that non-violent incidents in which no one was hurt rate higher than the first instance of domestic abuse — a PR stunt policy you finally instituted yesterday after completely flubbing Ray Rice’s suspension? Please tell us it’s not simply a quantity-over-quality equation where numerous charges mean more than one measly woman’s safety.

Oh and while you’re at it, how about some type of punishment for Indianapolis Colts Owner Jim Irsay, who was arrested on DUI charges on March 16 with numerous prescription drugs and nearly $30,000 in cash in a duffle bag found in his SUV? I know he’s your boss and all but something should be coming soon, right?

Commissioner of any sports league is one of the most thankless jobs out there. But Goodell’s term has been only a couple steps short of a dictatorship. Suspensions are given out with no regard for public sentiment and celebrations are met with fines worth tens of thousands of dollars. His typical hand-wringing responses when questions arise about how he doles out said punishments were never particularly responsible and now seem negligent.

Fortunately for Smith, he can use the team facilities and doctors for necessary help should he so choose. That’s not the case for Gordon, however. His exile means he cannot come in contact with the team in any way. An immature kid who needs support and structure now more than ever has instead been shown the door. Irsay’s punishment thus far: he won’t get to host the Super Bowl in 2018. Nothing to see here, though, right commish?

Anthony F. Irwin is an NBA, NFL, MLB and NCAA Football contributor for Follow him on Twitter, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google. Send him an email at

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