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Saturday, October 26, 2013
NFL supportive of Aldon Smith rehab

By Bill Williamson
ESPN.com

LONDON -- Aldon Smith's decision to seek alcohol treatment could work in his favor when the NFL decides whether to suspend him for his off-the-field issues.

Speaking to reporters after a forum for European fans, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said that Smith's treatment will be considered when weighing any discipline.

"Yes, it will be a factor, for sure," Goodell said.

San Francisco's game against Jacksonville at Wembley Stadium will be the fifth straight game Smith, a dynamic pass rusher, will miss. He entered a treatment center Sept. 23, three days after his second arrest for drunken driving since he entered the NFL in 2011.

The 49ers are planning to meet with Smith soon and are is hopeful he will return to the team this season. Coach Jim Harbaugh and general manager Trent Baalke said the reports of Smith's progress are encouraging and they want to see him make continued progress before coming back to the team.

"Certainly, the issue here isn't to discipline players. It's to stop the behavior," Goodell said. "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."

Potential scenarios are a reduced game suspension, a fine or no further discipline if Goodell is satisfied with Smith's progress and time spent away from the team.

Smith played in the 49ers' loss to the Colts two days after the arrest and the day before he left the team. The 49ers have taken criticism for allowing Smith to play. Baalke said that it was difficult decision, but the 49ers thought it was in Smith's best interest that he was with the team during that time.

About his thoughts of Smith playing in the game, Goodell explained the league was in a difficult situation because of rules with the NFL Players' Association.

"We've made a couple of proposals to our union that we should take quicker action. But they've resisted that," Goodell said. "We have to operate within the context of the collective bargaining agreement and joint drug program. That's something we weren't in position to do."