The NFL made a statement yesterday against domestic violence, and today’s is about repeat offenders.
The NFL announced that 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith was suspended for nine games for violating the NFL’s policies on substance abuse and personal conduct.
Smith will be eligible to return on Nov. 10, but that means the team will play half the season or more without two of their best defensive players. Linebacker NaVorro Bowman is coming back from a knee injury in the playoffs, and isn’t expected back until mid-season.
Smith has been one of the league’s best pass-rushers in recent years, with 42.0 sacks in 43 games.
But he’s also been a persistent off-field headache, with a DUI from last September leading to a stint in rehab. The league said they’d take his voluntary leave into consideration when deciding penalties, but they’re not in a lenient mode at the moment after admitting they screwed up the Ray Rice penalty.