Bell: Suspension is the only option for Aldon Smith

Bell: Suspension is the only option for Aldon Smith

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Bell: Suspension is the only option for Aldon Smith

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by JARRETT BELL / USA TODAY Sports

KING5.com

Posted on April 15, 2014 at 8:28 AM

Updated Tuesday, Apr 15 at 9:21 AM

It's a shame to think Aldon Smith is defining himself through his own special statistic:

The sacks-to-arrests ratio.

In 43 NFL games, the San Francisco 49ers linebacker has collected 42 sacks. What a marvelous talent.

This explains why Smith still has a job in a league where the better the skill, the better the odds of getting more chances. He has long arms, a nose for quarterbacks and a whole lot of explosion.

If not for his off-field escapades, Smith would be the prototype pass-rusher.

What a big if.

Off-field drama cannot be subtracted from the equation, with Smith's revealing police record.

Two DUI arrests, one reduced to reckless driving and the other pending. Three felony weapons charges, pending. One inglorious, megahouse party two summers ago, when two people were shot and Smith allegedly fired a bullet into the air and ended up suffering multiple stab wounds.

Now another episode: Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport on Sunday, alleged to have uttered something about a bomb after being selected by a TSA agent for a security screening.

Think they might be on alert at LAX? About five months ago, a gunman went on a shooting rampage in one of the terminals there, leaving a TSA agent dead.

Now Smith, 24, supposedly mentions a bomb. If that's true, how foolish.

That Smith cleared security and managed to get to the gate for his flight before being arrested is a bit puzzling, and a matter for the attorneys he surely has on speed-dial to sort out.

Regardless, it's a bad look for Smith (again), and more dirt has been dumped on the 49ers brand. Last week, it was revealed 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick and receiver Quinton Patton are linked to a police matter in Miami involving a woman who wound up unconscious and in a hospital. No charges have been filed, however, and police have clarified that initial reports of a sexual assault were inaccurate.

Still, the franchise quarterback's name is attached to the scene.

Also, cornerback Chris Culliver — who fueled a frenzy before Super Bowl XLVII with his public gay-bashing — is facing a misdemeanor hit-and-run charge and a felony charge for possession of brass knuckles after an incident this offseason.

The 49ers have built a team good enough to advance to three consecutive NFC championship games, but general manager Trent Baalke and coach Jim Harbaugh are subject to more scrutiny with all the action on police blotters.

The brain trust looked foolish in September when it allowed Smith to practice and then play in a game a couple days after he crashed his car and was arrested around 6 a.m.

Smith played before going off to rehab for five weeks. During the incident Sunday, police referenced a suspicion of alcohol use — but for some reason did not administer a breathalyzer test.

So what should NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell do?

Goodell should suspend Smith. Like yesterday. Like now. He needs to shut him down and let him deal with his legal issues.

As for NFL law, Smith already has violated the NFL's personal conduct policy — multiple times.

But for all of Smith's cases, he has yet to be suspended by the NFL — not even for that drunken, early-morning crash in September. Smith's five-game layoff last season was technically a leave, with Goodell apparently signing off on how the 49ers handled the case.

Goodell hasn't issued any discipline to Smith for the pending matters. He's exhibiting patience in a work environment that includes grumbling from the players union — which we keep hearing as it relates to stalled HGH testing — that the commissioner has too much power.

Before the New Orleans Saints bounty scandal, Goodell would suspend players in special cases regardless of how their cases played out legally. See Ben Roethlisberger and Adam "Pacman" Jones.

In most cases, it seems prudent to wait until the legal cases are resolved before issuing discipline.

But in special cases — like when a linebacker has one case stacked upon another — it's silly to avoid suspending the player for at least the period of time it takes to get the legal matters resolved.

That would send quite the message, and not just for the relationship between the public and the league's integrity. Smith needs to realize his talent would be a terrible thing to waste.

For all of his prowess as a pass-rusher, he's also a big risk to do something else to embarrass the league, his team and even worse, damage to himself and others.

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