- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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However, he must learn from the incident. The San Francisco 49ers’ star linebacker has to realize that he has to do the right thing every day and his actions are going to be closely watched.
Smith put himself in this situation by having several off-field issues since entering the NFL three years ago.
In truth, even if misdemeanor charges were filed in Los Angeles, Smith would still have much bigger issues to contend with. But at least they are being addressed, and he does have a chance to soon get a clean slate. He will be sentenced July 25 for pleading no contest to three felony gun charges. He could face jail time. The NFL could also suspend him, as well.
However, those issues occurred before Smith took steps last September to get his life in order. He voluntarily entered a substance abuse treatment center and missed five games. The team was supportive and positive about Smith when he rejoined the team in late October and into the offseason. In October in London, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the fact Smith was seeking treatment could help him avoid or get a lesser suspension.
The landscape changed with the incident at LAX. The 49ers immediately put out a release stating they were “disappointed.” The team seriously considered not giving Smith his 2015 option despite it being a no-brainer business decision. Privately, people within the team and the league were furious that Smith was in the news again for negative reasons.
As part of the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office’s decision not to file charges, they will have a hearing later this month with Smith. The goal of the hearing will be to teach Smith to avoid such situations in the future.
That is the ultimate lesson here: Smith has to avoid putting himself in bad situations.
The 49ers want him to succeed off the field, and they continue to support him. But if another situation arises, that might no longer be the case. As this review closes, Smith must make sure it’s the final bad situation he is involved in.