The San Francisco 49ers were “prepared for” today’s announcement by the National Football League to suspend 49ers star linebacker Aldon Smith for nine games and hope “to put this matter behind us,” a spokesman stated.
The NFL announced today on its website that Smith, convicted of five illegal gun and DUI charges last month in Santa Clara County Superior Court, had been suspended for violating the league’s policies on personal conduct and substance abuse.
The duration of the suspension means that Smith, 24, will be able to return to the field in the 49ers’ game versus the New York Giants during Week 11 of the 2014 season, since the 49ers have a “bye,” or no scheduled game, during Week 8, the NFL said.
The NFL’s decision to suspend Smith came less than a week before the beginning of the 2014 football season, which officially starts next Thursday.
In a statement, the 49ers’ senior manager of football communications Dan Beckler said the “organization has known this decision would come and we have prepared for it as a team.”
“Aldon has taken responsibility for his actions and has continued to show growth personally and professionally,” Beckler stated. “We will continue to support him, but it is time to put this matter behind us and focus on the season ahead.”
Smith’s suspension followed a number of serious scrapes he has had with the law, including three felony charges lodged against him last year in San Jose and one in Los Angeles this year.
On July 18, Smith pleaded no contest to three illegal gun and two DUI charges brought by the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.
Smith had faced a sentence of more than four years in prison, but a judge agreed to reduce the felony gun charges to misdemeanors, then sentenced him to serve three years of probation, 11 days in a work program and 235 hours of community service.
Smith decided not to contest charges he possessed three assault rifles, a .308 caliber Armalite AR10-T, Bushmaster ARC for 5.56mm bullets and a .223 caliber Bushmaster Carbon-15, in his rented home in an unincorporated area outside of San Jose in 2012, prosecutors said.
In the DUI case, Smith was arrested last Sept. 20 on suspicion of misdemeanor drunken driving and marijuana possession after he crashed his vehicle into a tree on the front lawn of a suburban home in San Jose.
Smith, who was not injured, was released after posting bail. Prosecutors did not file charges related to the marijuana.
He entered a live-in rehabilitation program for alcohol abuse after his DUI arrest, was placed on the non-football injury list by the 49ers and had to miss five 2013 regular season games.
On April 13 this year, Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport for allegedly making a bomb threat to a TSA agent, a potential felony crime, but prosecutors in Los Angeles on July 1 declined to charge him.
In the 2012 incident at his home outside San Jose, sheriff’s deputies seized Smith’s three rifles — which Smith bought in 2011 in Arizona, but which are illegal in California – during an investigation into a party at his home where gang members showed up and two guests were shot and wounded.
Deputies recovered large-capacity magazines of bullets on the floor of his bedroom and other live and expended bullets of various calibers in his bedside table.
During the 2012 party, after someone fired a shot into Smith’s garage, Smith fired two shots from a .45 caliber handgun into the air to disperse the crowd of hundreds of people outside.
Also attending the party were 49ers player Chris Culliver and former 49er Delanie Walker, who also fired a gun into the air in an attempt to encourage the crowd to leave.
While Smith stood in his driveway to tell the crowd to leave, Steven Raymond Barba, 28, an alleged member of the Norteno criminal street gang, came forward and stabbed him in the chest, but the wound was superficial and Smith was not badly hurt.
On July 14, Barba, who was convicted of assault with a deadly weapon in Smith’s stabbing and unrelated gun charges, was sentenced to three years of parole after receiving credit for serving 560 days in county jail.
Jeff Burbank, Bay City News