NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith is less likely to face league discipline because he decided on his own to enter rehabilitation for addiction.
Asked by ESPN if Smith’s decision to seek alcohol treatment works in his favor, Goodell said, “Yes, it will be a factor, for sure.”
Although Smith played on September 22, two days after he was arrested for drunk driving, he has been in rehab since then and will miss his fifth consecutive game on Sunday. Goodell said that the point of suspensions is to help players, not to punish them, and so Smith deserves credit for seeking help on his own.
“Certainly, the issue here isn’t to discipline players. It’s to stop the behavior,” Goodell said. “Aldon has voluntarily said, ‘I need help.’ We’re obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get help. We support that.”
That may make sense when it comes to potential discipline for drunk driving, but Smith is also currently facing four felony weapons charges. If Smith is convicted on those charges, seeking treatment for alcohol abuse likely won’t be enough to let him off the hook as far as the league office is concerned.