Why are the Raiders getting a pass with Aldon Smith?

At a time when NFL teams are rightfully getting sharply criticized for what have been some rather egregious off-field actions of players around the league, one team out there seems to be getting a pass.

Less than a month after the San Francisco 49ers released troubled linebacker Aldon Smith, the Oakland Raiders signed him to a one-year deal this past September.

This came with Smith facing yet another suspension from the National Football League. It also came with his DUI charges still unsettled in the court system.

Smith, a first-round pick of San Francisco back in 2011, had just been arrested for the fifth time in a four-year span — arrests that included multiple DUI’s, gun charges and making a false bomb threat at the Los Angeles International Airport.

These aren’t minor incidents in a vacuum. When put together, they tell us a story of a troubled young man that needed help.

That help initially came from a 49ers organization that led the path for Smith to attend an in-house alcohol rehabilitation program back in 2013. Putting the man before the team, San Francisco lost one of its best players for five games during the season — a season that saw it trying to defend its conference title.

Despite this, and with San Francisco doing everything right, a media firestorm ensuedWhether it was due to an inability to understand nuance or something else, the media initially questioned San Francisco’s willingness to play Smith just days after that DUI arrest.
All the while, the focus behind the scenes was on getting him in the right rehab program. San Francisco could have simply let the entire situation play out, at which point the NFL would have allowed Smith to suit up for the remainder of the season.

It’s one of the only right decisions this otherwise inept organization has made over the past three years or so. It also drew the ire of the local media.

The very same local media that has remained hushed up regarding Oakland’s decision to sign Smith.

The very same media that hasn’t written a negative word regarding the Raiders’ decision on Monday to re-sign a still suspended Smith to a two-year contract.

Imagine if this were the Dallas Cowboys for a second here. What if they had taken a flyer on Smith with the pass-rush help the team obviously needs? How would that have unfolded in the media?

What if San Francisco decided to re-kick the tires on Smith? It’s safe to assume this very same media wouldn’t have just let it pass without writing a negative word regarding said decision.

San Francisco was between a rock and a hard place with Smith. It didn’t want to be seen as lenient when it came to the former All-Pro. It also didn’t want to simply throw him out like trash because he was going through off-field issues.

In this, San Francisco decided to stick by Smith until it simply couldn’t anymore. That came last August.

Unlike the 49ers situation surrounding Smith, Oakland signed him knowing full well the plethora of off-field issues he had.

While completely different in the scope of offenses, it is akin to the Cowboys signing Greg Hardy last summer. This is to say, Oakland took on a malcontent that was facing a lengthy suspension for off-field transgressions. The end result here being a one-year suspension.

Anyone with common decency wishes Smith and the Raiders success here.

It’s simply unnerving that this situation has come to a head without the team receiving any sort of push back from what has been a largely skeptical local media presence in the Bay Area.

Apparently, when things are going good on the field questionable decisions off the field and from a player personnel standpoint can and should be ignored.

We saw that with the 49ers under Jim Harbaugh, and are now likely on the verge of this becoming commonplace as the Raiders work their way up the AFC West standings.