Frederickson: Scary signs amid Smith's football potential
You don't remember me, but we met once at a house party in college a few years back. I remember because it looked like you were wearing the living room. Your hand was massive, twice the size of mine, when you stuck it out to shake. More importantly, I remember you seemed like a genuinely decent dude.
I can't help but think of that encounter when I see you on TV, stalking NFL quarterbacks just like you did at the University of Missouri. And I can't help but think of it when I scroll through Twitter and see you took another step down a dark and scary path.
Aldon, I'm concerned, and I don't think I'm the only one. I hope those close to you are making it known instead of burying their heads in the sand. When I read you practiced today — hours after police said your blood alcohol content was nearly twice California's legal limit to drive — I couldn't help but wonder which approach your team, the San Francisco 49ers, is taking.
Sometimes a DUI-related arrest is just a mistake, a costly misstep. Sometimes it's a warning sign. A second is always the latter. Always.
And there have been other signs, footnotes that have piled up at the bottom of the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Together, they paint a troubling picture.
Your arrest for suspicion of drunken driving and marijuana possession Friday morning is now linked to your arrest for suspicion of drunken driving last year in Miami.
Meanwhile, there is this troubling lawsuit that stems from a gang-related party at your house in June 2012. You got stabbed there, and a man who got shot in the leg claims you were drunk and firing a gun.
Then there was that other incident on your old college campus in November, the disturbance at the late-night Mexican restaurant where glassy eyed students gather when the bars close. You denied a report that said you were involved in a fight, but a restaurant employee said you were there, and somebody called the cops.
Why do you keep finding yourself in these spots?
Is there a theme behind the unpleasant occurrences?
What reward is worth these risks?
People are piling on. Your Instagram account is flooded with comments like ...
"You have everything anyone could want and millions of fans around the world. How could you do something so stupid again?"
"You need a life coach or a handler or something dude"
"All that nonsense will catch up to you one day and believe me when it does regret will be your best friend."
They have a point. No one wants to see you sabotage a career that seems to have no ceiling. You are the linebacker who can't be blocked, yet you seem intent on stopping yourself.
But forget about football.
This is bigger than that. This is about your life. This is about grabbing hold of demons before they get too big, too powerful to stop. This is about saving yourself before you can't.
Good luck, Aldon. I think you are a good guy, and I hope you find peace.
You can follow Ben Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org