Former 49ers and Raiders defensive end Aldon Smith said he hopes he can use his experience to help others in his NFL return with the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith has been arrested multiple times under suspicion of driving under the influence, and the NFL initially suspended him for a year in 2015 after his third arrest. He has not played since, and the league made his suspension indefinite in 2016. Smith pleaded no contest in Nov. 2018 to two misdemeanor charges in a plea deal after facing four charges in a domestic-violence incident in which the victim alleged Smith struck her and bit her wrists.
"I believe that with the platform that the NFL gives players,” Smith told FOX Sports’ Jay Glazer on Thursday, “and particularly me with the things that I've gone through and things I've learned, that it would give me the chance to help out others. So it's not just deserving a shot to play, but it's deserving a shot to use that platform so I can help out other people. And that's why I'm so grateful for this opportunity."
Glazer trained Smith at his gym in Hollywood. He said Smith has been sober in the nine months they’ve worked together. Glazer didn’t ask Smith about the domestic violence allegations.
Smith worked with Glazer’s “Merging Vets and Players” program, which connects former professional athletes and returning combat veterans transitioning to a new stage of their lives. The 30-year-old said opening up to others was “therapeutic.”
"At the beginning of it, I was a little hesitant to talk,” Smith told Glazer. “But the more I felt comfortable with those people, it really just became so therapeutic for me because I was able to get help for things that I was dealing with and I was able to help by sharing my story.”
The 49ers selected Smith No. 7 overall in the 2011 NFL Draft. He recorded 44.0 sacks in 50 games and was suspended nine games in 2014 for violation of the NFL's substance-abuse and personal-conduct policy. San Francisco released him on Aug. 7, 2015, a day after Smith's third DUI arrest.
The defensive end signed with the Raiders a month later and played nine games before the NFL initially suspended him for a year. The Raiders released Smith on March 5, 2018, a day after San Francisco police sought him in connection to domestic violence allegations.
Smith said he met new Dallas Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy at Glazer’s gym, and he felt an immediate connection. He also will reunite with former 49ers defensive line coach Jim Tomsula in Dallas, and Smith said “the pieces fit” for him to agree to join the Cowboys on a one-year contract last week.
The NFL has not yet reinstated Smith. NFL Media’s Mike Garafolo reported last week the “process is underway.”