Aldon Smith was once in the discussion with Von Miller as the best young pass rusher in the NFL, but his career was derailed by a run of violations to the league’s substance-abuse policy and he hasn’t played since last season as a result.
His latest suspension, a yearlong ban that was brought down on Nov. 17, 2015, is due to be lifted. But first, commissioner Roger Goodell needs to reinstate the defensive end.
“I won’t be defeated,” Smith told the East Bay Times. “You’ve got to understand that it’s your life. You control it. You can’t let nobody else control it. It doesn’t matter what they try to do to you. And most importantly, God put you here for a reason so make the best out of your life, your situation and be a blessing to somebody else and show the world what you’re worth.”
Smith had 3.5 sacks in the 2015 season before being suspended, and he could return to one of the more fearsome pass rushes in the league with Khalil Mack and Bruce Irvin. But a video he posted of himself smoking marijuana during the offseason muddies his status to return.
When reached on Thursday by ESPN, the league office offered no comment about whether they would reinstate the former San Francisco 49er.
The Raiders have stood by Smith through the difficult stretch and he said before re-signing with the team in April that the Silver and Black would be the only squad he would consider due to their loyalty.
Smith is still just 27 and is under a two-year contract with Oakland. If he’s to return and stay on the field, it would be perfect timing as the Raiders chase their first divisional title in 14 years.
Quarterback Derek Carr offered his support for Smith after the lineman tweeted a video of himself working out, titled “Raiders Aldon Smith – Greatest Come Back Ever.”
Carr wrote: “almost time brother! Can’t wait until you’re back!”
@AldonSmith almost time brother! Can’t wait until you’re back! ?
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) November 17, 2016