In a frank, candid, and above all else inspiring segment on Friday’s edition of ESPN2’s First Take, former NFL running back Robert Smith disclosed that he has struggled for years with alcoholism.
The comments were made in connection with the struggles of 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith, who recently spent roughly five weeks in rehab after a DUI arrest in September.
“I would just caution him to understand what he is,” Robert Smith said. “Because what you are is an alcoholic. And every decision you make every day flows from that. . . . I’m an alcoholic, and I don’t have a chance to be the husband and the father that I want to be if I decide to drink. How am I going to teach my son to be a man if I’m not being a man? And if I’m drinking, I’m not being a man.”
Robert Smith explained that alcoholism ultimately is mental illness.
“It’s not your fault that you’re alcoholic,” Robert Smith said. “You’re born that way. But it’s damn sure your problem.”
Via the News-Herald, Robert Smith also said that his addiction began at Ohio State and increased during his NFL career with the Vikings.
“If you don’t deal with [alcoholism], it will take you down and take down the ones around you,” Robert Smith said. “It’s a living death. Absolute misery.”
We admire him for talking so openly about it. Even if it helps only one other person get the help that they so badly need, it will have been worth it.
Also, here’s hoping that Aldon Smith contacts Robert Smith for assistance as Aldon Smith tries to manage his own addiction. Their shared experience as NFL players could give Robert Smith’s advice extra weight.