By Jerrell Richardson

Even with his return to the football field, the news around Aldon Smith is far from positive. A few weeks back there were rumors swirling that Smith could see his suspension reduced 1 or 2 games for good behavior. However, these early return dates have passed and when it’s all said and done, Smith will have sat the entire 9 games. It was reported that the reason for Smith not being able to cut down on his missed games was due to him not doing all the things asked of him during his suspension. There are those in Smith’s camp that state otherwise, and his side has gained some support recently. Put all the pieces together and it looks like the possibility of a reduction was never really on the table, and that this is the case of the NFL making sure the next bad headline is not about them.

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Was The Reduction Even A Possibility?

While only Smith and the NFL know what was asked and what was done, the bottom line is that Smith’s version is not as farfetched as it originally seemed. Of course he and his agent are going to say that Smith did everything asked of him, but with the support of the NFLPA as well as a look at the facts, maybe Smith has a point. Perhaps this whole story is just a case of the NFL piling on a player who is an easy target, and there is no real thought to a one or two game reduction.

When Smith’s lengthy, 9-game suspension was announced, there was no mention of a possibility of a reduction. While there have been prior suspensions that have been reduced, most notably Ben Roethlisberger’s, it’s not as though this is common occurrence, and something that Smith and the 49ers should have planned for. In fact nobody was talking about a shortened sentence prior to this NFL supplied report, that raises a few questions, namely how did we just hear about this?

Team, Player and Agent Only Hurt Themselves

Are we supposed to believe that this whole time Smith never went to counseling and that just two weeks ago the NFL was thinking about letting him back on the field if he completed what they were asking of him? How much counseling could he go though in a week where it was still a chance from him to get through whatever was asked of him? If it was something that could have been knocked out in a week or so, they why would Smith not have gone to a meeting or two, show his face and leave? Do you also think that the 49ers would have sat back and allowed their most dominant pass rusher to take this suspension lightly?

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There is no question that if some counseling sessions would have allowed Smith back early, the 49ers would have done everything in their power, including driving him there to put pressure on him get it done. The same applies for his agent who will have the honor of representing a player who is going to owe money at the end of the season. You don’t think he wanted to avoid 2 more games at all costs? Also, in light of the fact that Smith went above and beyond in terms of community service hours, and has spent countless hours at the facility staying ready to play and it just doesn’t add up. Unless you think Smith greatly misused his endless free time during his suspension, while both his agent and team sat around idly, it makes no sense for him to spend extra time with the community service or working out at the facility.

What This Is Really About

The bottom line is that the NFL had no intention of reducing his suspension. In light of the recent bad news surrounding the NFL, and players misbehaving, there was no way to back off any punishment handed out at this time. Few will agree that the punishment fit the crime in Smith’s instance, and that is the reason for this report. By doing this, the NFL acknowledged that maybe the 9 games was a bit stiff, but they can point to Smith as the reason it stuck. If either Aldon Smith or San Francisco was told that certain actions from Smith would mean a lesser suspension, you can be sure that Smith misusing his time would not be the reason he ended up with 9 games and not 7 or 8. It’s like with any suspended player. Yes there is a chance they can return early, but there is no agreement that the suspension will definitively be reduced if player qualifies for good behavior and in the long run a reduction is very unlikely.

What is good behavior anyways? This is the NFL and not jail. Smith was not in a single headline since his suspension, but didn’t qualify? The NFL’s statement was iffy and subjective. They said that there was a possibility that Smith could return early due to good behavior, meaning nothing really concrete. The NFL gave Smith too long of a suspension and saw this as the only way to help shift the blame. The story now is not how wrong the NFL was for sitting Smith for 9 games, instead it’s how Smith failed to go to substance abuse counseling to help reduce his suspensio

For more 49ers news and updates, visit 49ers Central.

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Jerrell Richardson is a Bay Area native who due to a college career at San Diego State University has grown an appreciation for all things sports related in California. His heart will always remain in San Francisco though where he currently resides and covers everything from the San Francisco 49ers and Giants to the San Jose Sharks and California Bears Baseball team. Jerrell is a freelance writer covering all things NFL. His work can be found on