Oakland Raiders: Take A Breath, Aldon Smith Is Not In Trouble Again

September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith (99) during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
September 20, 2015; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith (99) during the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at O.co Coliseum. The Raiders defeated the Ravens 37-33. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports /

Oakland Raiders linebacker Aldon Smith made news in a big way today with reports that he’d violated his probation and was in trouble with the law once again – except for the fact that most of the reporting is absolutely erroneous.

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When Oakland Raiders GM Reggie McKenzie signed Aldon Smith to a two year deal earlier this offseason, it raised some eyebrows from some corners. After all, Smith is still currently suspended and isn’t eligible to return from his year long ban until November – assuming Roger Goodell sees fit to reinstate him. The contract is completely incentive laden and contains no guaranteed money just in case Smith falls back into his former boneheaded ways.

All in all, it was a good signing. After all, Smith is 26 years old, in his prime, and is a quarterback destroying machine. Teamed with the likes of Bruce Irvin, Khalil Mack, Mario Edwards Jr., and a few promising young rookies, Smith could complete a front seven that will be an absolute nightmare for opposing offenses.

But for many, visions of that fearsome front seven – one that could be among the best in football – came crashing down into a pile of flaming rubble. Take a look at the news today and you’ll find report after report after report that Smith is due back in court and is set to be arraigned for violating the terms of his probation.

To hear some people moaning and screaming about it, Smith is all but guaranteed to be locked away in in a supermax prison for the rest of his natural life.

The only problem is – most of those reports are wrong. Dead wrong.

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Let’s cut to some facts here, shall we? Yes, Aldon Smith was due back in court on Friday. Yes, Smith was dealing with a pair of legal issues that were on the court’s agenda – one, an evidence suppression motion hearing related to his DUI with a prior conviction charge. This would be the infamous hit and run/vandalism incident that led to him being released by the 49ers.

The second legal issue Smith and his attorneys were set to deal with was indeed a probation violation hearing. That much is true.

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The problem with the reporting – as well as the conclusions that are being jumped to surrounding Smith’s court appearance – is that most of it’s just not true. Or at least, it’s not factually correct. Smith did have a court appearance on Friday, but it wasn’t for anything we didn’t already know about.

As noted by Zac Jackson of Pro Football Talk, the report that led to all of the rampant speculation and bemoaning of the Raiders’ fortunes when Smith is sent to the big house, was based off of the Santa Clara County criminal case index, which provides dry facts, but little to no context.

So when some intrepid reporter saw Smith’s name on the index, along with a description of the legal issues, the conclusion they jumped to was that Smith was in fact, in big, fat, hairy trouble again. The problem with that though, was that by basing a report off the index and not doing their due diligence on the matter, said intrepid reporter touched off a firestorm of rumor, speculation, and innuendo about Smith’s legal situation.

A firestorm – as it turns out – is completely erroneous.

Per a spokesperson for the Santa Clara County District Attorney:

"“District Attorney spokesperson said Friday that Aldon Smith’s arraignment for violating probation is not a new charge, nor does it stem from a new incident. Smith was on probation from a prior conviction, and DUI, hit and run and vandalism charges levied following an Aug. 2015 run-in with the law were considered a violation of that probation.”"

So, as you can see for yourself, in plain black and white, Smith is not in trouble “again,” as so many people are fired up about. This is a matter of disposing of past legal issues – or at least, trying to dispose of them.

After his release by San Francisco and subsequent pick up by Oakland, Smith has been a model citizen. He’s worked hard for the Raiders, has reportedly been doing all of the right things he needs to do to get back into the league. By all accounts, Smith is walking the straight and narrow. Which is very good news for the Raiders and terrible news for opposing quarterbacks.

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By all accounts, Smith has put the immature, boneheaded behavior behind him and is grinding away, waiting for his chance to get back into the game. That chance may come this November if Goodell accepts his request for reinstatement.

And so long as he continues to work hard and keep his nose clean, there shouldn’t be any speed bumps that get in his way – regardless of the erroneous reporting that suggests otherwise.