Jack Del Rio: NFL rules kept us from giving Aldon Smith the structure he needs

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The Raiders have released the troubled pass rusher Aldon Smith, and his former coach is wishing he had done more to help.

Former Raiders coach Jack Del Rio, who coached Smith for nine games before Smith was suspended in 2015, says that the league’s rules kept the Raiders from giving Smith the kind of structure that Smith would have benefited from having.

“Never liked ‘league rules’ that eliminate the ability of teams to offer Aldon and others in his situation the structure they so desperately need,” Del Rio wrote on Twitter, in response to PFT’s tweet about Smith being released.

Del Rio did not elaborate on what kinds of help he felt the Raiders could have given Smith, but the NFL bars suspended players not just from the field in games but also from practices and team meetings. Perhaps Smith could have benefited from being around the Raiders just to have something productive to do with his time, even if he remained suspended and ineligible to play in games.

49 responses to “Jack Del Rio: NFL rules kept us from giving Aldon Smith the structure he needs

  1. Does Del-Rio want full time babysitters for grown men making millions of dollars ? lol

  2. I admire JDR’s desire, and I wish there were more people like him.

    The reality is the kind of help Smith needs is far greater than perhaps just being around a positive atmosphere (although that certainly would’ve helped). He needs serious professional support and, unfortunately, that’s a whole lot more than a NFL franchise can offer.

  3. Can’t help those who don’t want to help themselves.
    Harbaugh went to the wall for the guy over 4 years ago, convinced 49ers brass to sign him, and then he drove a car into a tree.
    One of the reasons the Niners justified ditching Jim and going into the tailspin they did.

  4. Aldon Smith is 28 years old. Is there no point when his actions become his own responsibility?

  5. At the end of the day, playing in the NFL is a job, and it’s not your employer’s responsibility to make sure you don’t act like an idiot when you go home. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of employer’s who consider the image you portray to the world outside of the workplace when it comes to employment, but maintaining that image is up to the individual. #RaiseYourKidsRight

  6. to coach a big dawg like aldon smith you gotta be a big dawg and that means getting his face 24/7 and communicating that on a team you must be united to generate attitude/accomplishments. Tom Coughlin had to do that to Leonard Fournette who is the one who came up with the BUGA philosophy acronym. If the league rules dont get this they should change them because aldon smith should be playing.

  7. Aldon Smith is a good kid, he just needs another chance.

    Oh wait, he’s a grown man at age 28, and has earned over $20,000,000.

    Maybe he needs to look in the mirror.

  8. Well, if it’s structure he needs, it sounds like that may be coming for him soon.

  9. On one hand, I agree with him. Some of these guys could benefit from some accountability and motivation to get back on the field. On the other hand, when did these “grown men” need babysitters. These guys who need constant attention to stay out of trouble are usually more trouble than they are worth…except for a few teams who could care less about character.

  10. May those commenting here receive in their time of greatest need exactly the support they feel others should or shouldn’t have.

  11. Allowing Smith to workout/interact with teammates/the organization may have helped.

    Maybe not.

    In the end, Smith failed himself.

    But, the league didn’t do much to help.

    RAIDER NATION

  12. He’s a grown man. If you need a babysitter to ensure you can play and make millions, then you shouldn’t be making millions. End of story.

  13. “Smith could have benefited from being around the Raiders just to have something productive to do with his time”

    Really, what was stopping him from finding something productive to do with his time?

  14. The Raiders have nothing to do with the actions of this person. Suppose to be a grown man and accountable as we all are for our actions. Please no excuses, we are tired of the lame excuses from players as this in the NFL.

  15. The structure needed for this guy would be 24/7 in a rehab that does not permit visitors or visiting by patient. His need to be subdued for starters is obvious, because there is something horribly wrong with his system. If not, we probably will be reading of his demise sometime in the near future. Sad, to say the least.

  16. I read a lot of great comments on this topic. If you want to help someone on an NFL team, exiling them will not help them. Ideally the team support would be one piece of the puzzle along with mandatory counseling and more support around the player. Washing your hands of it and just saying is not allowed on the premises does not help anybody

  17. We’re just a bunch of rough tough macho guys out here. Responsibility! Accountability! Grow up! Easy to say. But we’re all grown men. When people with serious mental health disorders shoot up a school, we’re not so tough. Maybe we were pretending we were tough and didn’t do enough to protect our kids. Most guys that talk tough are the first ones to take off running when trouble comes around.

  18. Well it’s not like Del Rio is wrong here…

    Some guys need the structure of football and support of the team to function. I understand punishing someone for actions, but taking away the support structure that would help them get back on the straight and narrow never made any sense to me. The goal should be rehabilitation, not vindiction.

    If Lawrence Taylor played in Goodell’s NFL, the greatest defensive player of all time would never see the field.

  19. I don’t know what kind of structure Del Rio was talking about, but I doubt attending team meetings and practises would have been the therapy Aldon needed.

  20. Brandon in Northwest Suburbia says:
    Some guys need the structure of football and support of the team to function. I understand punishing someone for actions, but taking away the support structure that would help them get back on the straight and narrow never made any sense to me. The goal should be rehabilitation, not vindiction.
    ==

    What in the world makes you think watching practice, lifting at team facilities or attending team meetings will make a guy stop drinking or abusing women?
    The man is an alcoholic with anger and impulse control issues. Until he’s ready to help himself, no amount of exposure to “structure” is going to change that. If it could, how do you explain al the previous times he got into trouble DURING an NFL season, when he had that structure around him?
    Stop making excuses for grown men’s actions. This guys has been in team structures his whole life. Aside form his upbringing — which I admittedly know nothing about — did it ever occur to you that being coddled as an athlete from junior high on helped contribute to his lack of personal responsibility?

  21. Yeah, I’m sure team functions would have helped him not get stabbed at his house that time or stopped him from yelling out that he had a bomb at the airport that one time. Some people are just knuckleheads, and just because he had talent doesn’t mean you have to get on your soapbox talking about if you could have done this, you could have saved him. It’s obvious you couldn’t as much dumb stuff as this guy did with many, many chances on the line. He would have been doing this constant screwing up whether he had been a janitor or an elite NFL pass rusher.

  22. dregonspengler says:
    March 5, 2018 at 5:59 pm
    Brandon in Northwest Suburbia says:
    Some guys need the structure of football and support of the team to function. I understand punishing someone for actions, but taking away the support structure that would help them get back on the straight and narrow never made any sense to me. The goal should be rehabilitation, not vindiction.
    ==

    What in the world makes you think watching practice, lifting at team facilities or attending team meetings will make a guy stop drinking or abusing women?
    The man is an alcoholic with anger and impulse control issues. Until he’s ready to help himself, no amount of exposure to “structure” is going to change that. If it could, how do you explain al the previous times he got into trouble DURING an NFL season, when he had that structure around him?
    Stop making excuses for grown men’s actions. This guys has been in team structures his whole life. Aside form his upbringing — which I admittedly know nothing about — did it ever occur to you that being coddled as an athlete from junior high on helped contribute to his lack of personal responsibility?

    ————-

    Dez Rules worked out well for all parties involved. Bryant’s arrest did not result in a suspension, so the extra off the field structure and support was allowed by league rules. If he had been suspended by the league…no Dez Rules.

    And LT readily admits his life outside of football fell apart when BB and Parcells were no longer in his football life.

    I’m not making excuses for a grown man, as you have asserted. I’m simply pointing out the reality of the current situation and the documented facts of similar cases in the past.

    Dexter Manley is 59 years old today and somehow, still alive. What are the odds he would have made it to this point if the league barred Joe Gibbs from contacting him at the low point of his life?

  23. I get what Del Rio is saying,but you can’t babysit a grown man 24/7. Smith has to take responsibility for his actions and get help. It’s no longer about football. It’s about life and living the right way. His football ship has probably sailed.

  24. If players can stick around then they’ll demand to get paid, hence the term suspended without pay, which teams will also be liable when something happens while the player is in the house. For example, someone’s bound to drop a weight on themselves or trip and tear an ACL or something.

  25. Aldon needs to make a commitment to changing his ways, first and foremost. The root of this situation is Aldon Smith, no one else.

    However, I’ve never understood why every suspension means banishment from the team. Some cases may deserve it (team-imposed suspensions like Eagles and T.O, or conduct against teammates like Steve Smith) but for most cases I don’t see the merit.

    You are suspended from the games, you lose your hefty paychecks, you immediately lose sponsorships and/or “personal brand integrity”, and you let your team down. To always make a player with substance abuse issues or mental health concerns stay away from the support of the organization generally does more harm than good.

  26. Coach Del Rio is exactly right. The players such as Aldon Smith
    and Randy Gregory ( weed ) are essentially exiled to a deserted island.
    This seems to me to be counter productive. Instead of having the player
    around a centralized support system with teammates helping to support
    the player. Most programs stress seeking help from others, and stress that
    the addiction cannot be overcome alone. So why not let the player be part
    of a positive structure?
    It also seems absurd to suspend a player for using marijuana which is legal
    in many states. Roger Goodell’s stance is purely based on his own
    opinion and what he believes is the proper stance from a public relations
    stance. It is also arguably based upon his complete lack of knowledge as to the use
    of weed in particular communities.

  27. Maybe players like Aldon Smith should be allowed to make poor choices, squander their opportunities and get kicked out of the league to make room for more-deserving players who actually behave like responsible citizens.

  28. Jack Del Rio means well, but he’s actually part of the problem. Football coaches aren’t mental health professionals. I don’t blame Jack. It’s just the way our society thinks, or doesn’t think. It’s like going to your psychiatrist for tips on how to pick up the blitz. They’re just not trained for that.

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