Humans do stupid things daily, all ranging in severity and consequence. As I write this there’s probably at least one groggy individual who did the classic reverse through the garage door stunt. That’s dumb, but the harm is only to door, car, and pocket. Like so many others, it’s also an example of a private matter. A privately stupid matter, but you get the idea nonetheless.
Aldon Smith is a different sort of idiot. He’s the extreme and completely clueless kind, so much that as a football player his stay on any one team could be brief without a drastic course correction.
Smith was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport yesterday and eventually charged with “false report of a bomb threat”. He was detained by airport security (an exchange captured by TMZ’s permanently planted LAX cameras) and then booked by the LAPD before being released on $20,000 bail. The charge comes with up to one year of jail time.
Late last night CSN Bay Area’s Matt Maiocco passed along details of the exchange that led to Smith’s latest arrest, obtained through a police official. Smith’s lack of airpot decorum is truly unique, and by that I mean completely unfathomable.
After going through the initial screening to board a flight, here’s what landed the San Francisco 49ers pass rusher in jail:
According to Sgt. Ortiz, Smith was going through screening when he asked the TSA agent, “Are you going to search me further?”
Smith was told, “That’s not necessary,” according to Sgt. Ortiz.
Then, Smith responded, according to Sgt. Ortiz, “Why not? I have a bomb.”
It’s difficult to comprehend what was going through Smith’s mind, and it actually starts to hurt as you strain yourself trying to make some kind of logical defense. It can’t be done, as anyone over the age of about 10 knows that merely uttering the word “bomb” in an airport immediately brings swat teams and such to your location. Even sending a hilariously funny joke to an airline in tweet form perks up the ears of the FBI.
Quibble with the lack of humor from those who are paid to ensure air travel is safe if you must, but please know if you do that, you’re lowering yourself to Smith’s level. There are few times in this life when saying “bomb” is actually a fine form of comedy and the perfect punchline to a well-executed joke. That applies regardless of where you are, but it’s especially true at an airport, because bombs explode and hurt people. Fact.
That word has always ended badly around security personnel at airports. It’s not new, and although there’s been a heightened sensitive to it since 2001, bomb discussion with security has always been a pretty horrible idea at an airport, at least for normal, sane-minded people.
Which returns us to the central questions around Smith now: Why? And what is wrong with you?
The first conclusion might be the right one, which is that if he wasn’t drunk he still had enough alcohol in his system to cause a momentary — and massive — lapse in judgement. Smith wasn’t given a blood-alcohol test because his level of drunkenness is irrelevant to his choice of airport security language. However, authorities also told Maiocco that Smith “appeared as if he had been drinking earlier in the day”.
This is a problem. This past season Smith missed five games following the second of his two DUI charges over the past two years, the latest one ending in a single-car accident which could have been worse. During that time he checked himself into rehab, and his recovery was seemingly going well, with his drinking problems were presumably in the past. Now they’re not, and yet he continues to produce at a high level on the field with 8.5 sacks over 11 games in 2013, and 42 over three seasons and 43 career games.
Aldon Smith: Pressures and Grades 2011-2013 pic.twitter.com/vc9M8iKt97
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) April 14, 2014
That’s a problem. Between both his apparent alcohol addiction that’s resulted in this arrest and the DUIs, and his charges for illegal possession of an assault weapon stemming from an incident during a party he hosted, Smith his been charged four times over just three seasons with the 49ers. Eventually, the tolerance of off-field idiocy reaches its logical limit, especially under a coach who said these words…
“We want to be above reproach in everything and do everything by the rules.” — Jim Harbaugh, June, 2013. Your move, coach.
— SI_DougFarrar (@SI_DougFarrar) April 14, 2014
Now during a time when 49ers general manager Trent Baalke would like to be focussing on the draft, a decision looms. He has to either activate or decline a fifth-year player option on Smith by May 3 which will pay him $9.75 million in 2015. The former action is growing increasingly unlikely, because at some point integrity has to win out over football performance, and that happens when a player is on his fourth and fifth chances, just as we saw with Justin Blackmon in Jacksonville.
But if he becomes a former 49ers employee through any avenue, quickly the focus will turn to Aldon Smith the pass rusher, and not Aldon Smith the drinking fool, as every team not named the 49ers will quickly be interested. Just win baby.