San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith played Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts, a little over 48 hours after his arrest on suspicion of driving under the influence.
As soon as the game was over, though, he was apologizing for his latest brush with the law and heading off to rehab.
“First off, I wanted to apologize to the team, the organization, my family and everybody I let down,” he said. “I also wanted to let it be known that this is a problem and it’s something that I will get fixed, and that I’ll do everything in my power to make sure that this never happens again.
“I also wanted to let everybody know that once again I’m sorry.”
The 49ers had faced a fair amount of criticism for allowing him to play, but Smith couldn’t be suspended immediately despite multiple off-the-field incidents because of the collective bargaining agreement, which requires that cases first must be adjudicated.
So Smith, who was arrested at 7 a.m. PDT Friday after crashing his car into a tree, is taking what owner Jed York called “indefinite” leave of absence. York defended the team’s decision to let Smith play Sunday.
“It was disappointing, but we support him, and knowing that what he wants to do is not a one-day fix, it’s a long-term fix for Aldon,” York said. “Aldon is willing to fight for himself and try to make this right, and I will see it through, and I will support him. I will take any shots that anybody wants to direct at the organization. They can direct [criticism] at me, and I will support Aldon as long as he is willing to work at this and fight to get better.”
When he’s out of rehab and his legal situation is clarified, then he can expect punishment from the NFL.