ALAMEDA – Aldon Smith won’t play for the Raiders this season. Head coach Jack Del Rio doesn’t like that. Not one bit.
The veteran edge rusher applied for reinstatement from an indefinite banishment under the NFL’s substance abuse policy, but the league said Friday it won’t re-open Smith’s case until March 2017.
Smith was eligible for reinstatement on Nov. 17. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and league officials met with Smith earlier this month, but the league didn’t directly address his reinstatement case until Friday.
“I’m a little disappointed, honestly,” Del Rio said. “I feel like, from everything I’ve gathered – it’s obviously not my job to make a ruling – he has done his duty to take care of everything he needs to take care of. I see some of the guys that have been allowed back, and my question is, ‘What’s the difference?’”
The NFL recently allowed Dallas edge rusher Randy Gregory to return to work, though his suspension was finite. Michael Floyd, recently released by Arizona and signed by New England, is playing despite a recent DUI arrest, but hasn't been convicted of a crime.
Smith still has pending misdemeanor charges of DUI, hit-and-run and valndalism outstanding, with a trial date during set for Feb. 27, 2017.
Del Rio believes Smith should have a right to work at this stage.
“It’s always a question mark,” Del Rio said. "But if I guy has a chance, he should have a chance to make a living. I don’t really agree with what’s gone down, but it’s not my job. We’ll move on as a team. That’s what we have to do, but I am a little disappointed.”
Del Rio isn’t the only one upset Smith isn’t coming back. Star edge rusher Khalil Mack, one of Smith’s best friends on the team, was also bummed out by the news.
“It is what it is,” Mack said. “I don’t like the fact that he’s not going to be able to do what he loves but, at the same, (the league’s decision) isn’t something he can control. We have to roll with the punches.”