There is that word “thug” being thrown around again. Except this time it is an actual NFL player using it. San Francisco 49ers pass rusher Aldon Smith, in an exclusive interview with CSN Bay Area, spoke at length about his recent off-field mishaps and his relationship with the 49ers organization. 

Smith had this to say (via CSN Bay Area).

Maybe after this is over, you can tell your friends I’m a good person. Anybody who hangs around me can tell that. A lot of these things are being painted in a picture that’s not true.

Courtesy of Smith may face a suspension stemming from 2013 DUI arrest.
Courtesy of Smith may face a suspension stemming from 2013 DUI arrest.

When referring to “this,” Smith is talking about a pending DUI case stemming from early last season when he allegedly drove his car into a tree during Friday rush-hour traffic in San Jose while intoxicated. Smith ended up missing five games after checking himself into alcohol rehabilitation. He’s also had a previous run-in with the law that involved possession of illegal fireams after he was stabbed at a house party back in 2012.

Smith continued…

The 49ers have supported me…As you can see, the option got picked up. And if I was a thug or something, I don’t think they’d take those chances.

San Francisco picked up the fifth and final year of Smith’s rookie contract, which means he’s slated to make just over $9 million in 2015. It does, however, have an out following the 2014 season, as the contract doesn’t become fully guaranteed until March.

Smith is currently facing three felony charges as well as a misdemeanor DUI charge. This doesn’t even take into account an incident earlier this offseason in which he was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport for a false bomb threat. Authorities in Southern California have yet to decide whether they’re going to press charges.

Smith, who has recorded the most sacks for any player through 50 games in the history of the NFL, is also facing potential sanctions from the league itself. Commissioner Roger Goodell has indicated in the past that the goal of the league is not to punish players, rather its to help them get help. Speaking specifically of Smith’s situation last season, Goodell had this to say (via ESPN).

Certainly, the issue here isn’t to discipline players. It’s to stop the behavior…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.

It remains to be seen whether the incident at LAX will have any impact on Goodell’s stance. Either way, let’s hope that Smith finally gets it. The talent that he possesses on the football field is generational. It would be a crying shame for that to go to waste because of continued demons off the field.

Photo: Kim Klement, USA Today