Aldon Smith on Making NFL Comeback with Cowboys: 'This Whole Thing Is Surreal'

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistApril 10, 2020

PITTSBURGH, PA - NOVEMBER 8:  Linebacker Aldon Smith #99 of the Oakland Raiders looks on from the field before a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers at Heinz Field on November 8, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Steelers defeated the Raiders 38-35. (Photo by George Gojkovich/Getty Images)
George Gojkovich/Getty Images

Defensive end Aldon Smiith told Jay Glazer of Fox Sports that signing with the Dallas Cowboys was "surreal" after not playing an NFL game since the 2015 season. 

"The whole thing is surreal," Smith said in the interview. "I don't know if it's sunk in yet, but it's just truly amazing and I'm so fortunate it worked out."

Smith said his darkest period away from football came in 2018:

Michael Gehlken @GehlkenNFL

Cowboys DE Aldon Smith told @JayGlazer on Fox Football Now his “rock bottom” was 2018. “I was in a really dark place. I didn’t have a lot of value for how I thought about myself...I was sleeping under a car for some nights. My sickness took me there. And I had a home to sleep in” https://t.co/Ozk4sWGOgx

The 30-year-old was once one of the NFL's most promising edge-rushers, posting 33.5 sacks in his first two seasons (2011-12) with the San Francisco 49ers. But a long list of legal troubles and off-field issues eventually ran him out of the NFL:

  • Jan. 2012: Arrested on suspicion of DUI.
  • Sept. 2013: Arrested on suspicion of DUI. Checks into rehab and misses five games.
  • Oct. 2013: Turns himself into police on "three felony counts of possessing illegal assault weapons after a 2012 party at his house in which investigators said several shots were fired, two partygoers were injured and Smith was stabbed," per Paul Gutierrez of ESPN. 
  • April 2014: Arrested on suspicion of making false bomb threats, though ultimately wasn't charged. 
  • Aug. 2014: Suspended nine games for violating the NFL's personal-conduct and substance-abuse policies.
  • Aug. 2015: Arrested and charged with hit-and-run, DUI and vandalism. 
  • Sept. 2015: Signs with the Oakland Raiders.
  • Nov. 2015: Suspended one year by the NFL for violating the substance-abuse policy. 
  • Nov. 2016: One-year suspension is extended indefinitely.
  • March 2018: Turns himself into police on misdemeanor charges of willful infliction of corporal injury, assault with force likely to produce great bodily injury, false imprisonment and vandalism. He's released by the Raiders.
  • Nov. 2018: Pleaded guilty to two misdemeanor charges, sentenced to 90 days in prison and three years probation.

It seemed likely that Smith's professional football career was over, but he's worked himself back into football shape in recent years and was given another chance by the Cowboys.

"It gave me a greater appreciation for the game I've been blessed to play," Smith said of his time away from football (h/t Jon Machota of The Athletic). "I'm just so excited that the Cowboys and the NFL has given me a chance to come back and finish what I started."