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Bruce Irvin with heartfelt words of support for troubled Raiders teammate Aldon Smith

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Earlier today, in the midst of the free agent frenzy, reports came out of Aldon Smith being detained by the police overnight for public intoxication. Not long afterward, Smith was released by the SFPD where he was met outside by several members of the television media in which he was still visibly not sober from the night before.

For those who watched Smith and know people who struggle with substance abuse, it’s an extremely sad story. It was apparent this wasn’t just an incident brought on by stupidity or immaturity, but the same problems that Smith has grappled with for several years. It was those issues that led to his being arrested for DUI several times and ultimately got him banished the the NFL for a minimum of one year — a deadline that passed four months ago.

Aldon has always been well liked by his teammates. Bruce Irvin joined the Raiders last offseason, but has never been able to take the field with Smith because of his suspension. The two were rivals while Irvin was with the Seahawks and Smith was the 49ers, and hoped to provide a dynamic pass rushing pair along with Khalil Mack on the Raiders defense.

The expectation since the end of the season has been that Smith would be reinstated this month, in time for him to re-join his Raiders teammates for the start of OTA’s in mid April. This latest incident puts doubt on that reunion.

Irvin, being as outspoken as he is, offered some words of support for Smith today, via his Instagram page.

“I was reading and thought about you! It hurts my soul to see the hurtful words towards you but I support you 100 percent brother I hope you shake this and get back to balling with us! #prayfor99 @aldonsmith”

He said that coupled with this message:

A post shared by Bruce Irvin (@bruceirvin51) on

Messages like this are vital. Most importantly to Aldon himself, who needs all the support he can get from his teammates, friends, and family, but also for fans who often forget these players are human beings, not just objects for their entertainment.

There’s no question Aldon must take responsibility for his actions and be held accountable for them. Roger Goodell has already punished him multiple times and if he sees fit, will continue to do so in light of this incident. And Aldon has no one to blame but himself if/when that happens. At this point, however, I am with Irvin. Get right, Aldon. Get well.