Power Over Policy? NFL Players Facing D.U.I’s

On September 20th, just over two weeks ago, the San Francisco 49ers’ linebacker Aldon Smith had been arrested for the suspicion of drunken driving and marijuana possession. I was able to come across two interesting articles (links below) regarding the decision made by the 49ers’ too allow Aldon too not only participate in the teams practice 4 hours after the incident but to take part in the teams game against the Indianapolis Colts 2 days later. The first article written by Steve Busfield provides direct quotes from the 49ers’ CEO Jed York regarding the teams decision to allow Aldon too play Sundays game. York states, “Our opinion is if you’re sitting someone down and paying them to sit down when they’re going to seek treatment in the future, we didn’t feel like that was an appropriate punishment.” The article then later goes into some policy details noting how the 49ers’ and the commissioner Roger Goodell cannot suspend Smith until the case was adjudicated. The article discusses the substance-abuse policy as being a high concern to the commissioner and league, but until settled in court it seemed as though making the right ethical decision was in the organizations hands. The second article by Greg Bedard really depicted the 49ers’ decision to play Smith negatively and presented an alternative course of action he felt the team should have taken. Bedard presents the term accountability several times and believes that the 49ers’ failed to hold Aldon accountable for his actions and referred to the 49ers’ decision as “deplorable; showing that the organization doesn’t stand for anything but winning games.” Bedard felt that Aldon should have been on the sideline of the game facing TV cameras and then face the media after the game to take accountability. Although policy was unable to keep Aldon Smith from playing in the game 2 days after his arrest, I feel like the authority of power in the 49ers’ organization had the opportunity to set an example to all NFL players that they shall be disciplined properly and held accountable for their unethical actions. The CEO York had the opportunity and ability to bring about significant change and facilitate action against players committing serious offences but rather allowed their talented linebacker to take the field in hopes of shutting down the opposing teams offence.  Maybe stricter policies? Maybe more action from the power of authority through the organizations? What do you think?


Busfield, S. (2013, September 23). 49ers’ Aldon Smith plays against Colts after DUI arrest but before rehad. theguardian Sport. Retrieved from


Bedard, G.A. (2013, September 30) No Win-Win Situation. The MMQB. Retrieved from


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5 Responses to Power Over Policy? NFL Players Facing D.U.I’s

  1. mmorello11 says:

    First of all, great blog! I really agreed/liked when you wrote “The CEO York had the opportunity and ability to bring about significant change and facilitate action against players committing serious offences but rather allowed their talented linebacker to take the field in hopes of shutting down the opposing teams offence.” I completely agree with you in that this isn’t right. Something should have been done, he should have been made an example of. DUI’s — in my opinion– are huge. They really get to me when people are driving drunk. I do think the policies need to be more strict. A player shouldn’t be allowed to play a game, maybe not even participate in practice, if they have been accused of a criminal offence, or any illegal activity for that matter– until they are cleared by police and are innocent.

    Marked – SE

  2. wilsonjulia says:

    This blog was very interesting to see two articles that were arguing opposing viewpoints. I however, agree with your statement that suggests that 49ers’ organization had a choice to sit Aldon because of his pending DUI charges. I think that players in the NFL hold somewhat of a power status within society because they are so well known and they represent a team and a business. An NFL team like the 49ers should be really concerned with upholding moral values, to ensure their image in the media is upheld, and ultimately, they should have withheld Aldon from playing to make him accountable and to set an example for the rest of the league that illegal actions have consequences.

    Marked – SE

  3. pauldermody says:

    This past year has seen countless struggles within the NFL. Either it be with Aaron Hernandez or the above Aldon Smith. Strangely though out of all of the Big 4, the NFL has the most problems off the field with their athletes. I do believe that the NFL should step in and not allow teams to dictate penalties to their players because as we all know teams can be biased to their “STAR” players. Does not matter if the athlete in question had stolen a cookie from a corner store or was convicted of first degree murder, teams in any league should not be given the right to team suspensions. This has become a growing concern in sport especially within the NFL.

    Marked – SE

  4. qs10im says:

    People may not agree with what I am about to say but I believe that what the 49ers did was the correct course of action. No I do not condone drinking and driving because it is breaking the law, however it’s the courts responsibility to give Smith the consequences for breaking the law and not the 49ers. It is the 49ers responsibility to win games and it is not fair to all the other players on the team to have to potentially lose the game for the actions of a player when legally he is still allowed to play.

    Marked – SE

  5. Very interesting blog. As many of you know from seeing me in 49ers gear daily, this blog struck up immediate interest to me. I for one do not agree with the 49ers decision to let Aldon Smith practice after he was arrested for the D.U.I. From a fans standpoint, of course I see why coach Harbaugh wanted Smith to practice and possibly play, he is one of our pro bowl linebackers. But I did not agree with the decision to let him practice. He should have been held out of practice in order to reach a settlement that not only helped Aldon, but to send the right message to the community, that even though we will be missing our star player, we will not tolerate reckless behavior. The 49ers organization from top to bottom smartened up and with the input of Aldon Smith himself, sent him to rehab to get over his issues. Although the 49ers stepped in and tried to give Smith a punishment themselves, there is still growing concern from the fanbase that the NFL will have some punishments for Aldon Smith, and if that is the case, I will be ok with that due to the circumstances.

    Marked – SE

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