Posted September 22, 2013

Jim Harbaugh: 2005 DUI ‘made me a better counselor,’ and Aldon Smith provides a serious test case

San Francisco 49ers, Uncategorized
Jim Harbaugh is facing questions about his handling of OLB/DE Aldon Smith. (Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

Jim Harbaugh is facing questions about his handling of OLB/DE Aldon Smith. (Michael Zagaris/Getty Images)

San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh has faced more heat than he would like about the way he’s handled linebacker/end Aldon Smith’s most recent DUI offense. Smith was arrested on Friday morning for driving under the influence, but Harbaugh intimated later that day that Smith would play against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday. It was Smith’s second DUI in less than two years, and while the NFL might want to speak to him about a suspension, Harbaugh said at his Friday press conference that Smith “needs to go to work, face his teammates and soldier through it.”

It’s an interesting take, considering that last November, backup defensive lineman DeMarcus Dobbs was arrested for suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession, and he didn’t travel with the team for a contest against the St. Louis Rams the next Sunday. Dobbs was also arrested on a Friday, and it got a bit up Harbaugh’s nose when he was asked this Friday about the seemingly different treatment given to Smith.

“I’m not going into the specifics and the dissecting of what the policies are,” Harbaugh said. “If you want to question those, so be it.”

The answer seems fairly obvious — Smith is one of the 49ers’ most important players, and while Dobbs was a key special teams contributor, San Francisco’s defense wasn’t going to fall apart without him. Dobbs suffered a knee injury on Dec. 9, was out for the rest of the season, and was suspended by the league for the 2013 season opener against the Green Bay Packers.

More interestingly, Tim Kawakami of the San Jose Mercury News pointed out a piece written by Roy S. Johnson of Stanford Magazine in September, 2008. Johnson reveals that when Harbaugh interviewed for the Stanford head coach position in April, 2007, he had to explain his own vehicular incident.

Early one Sunday morning in October 2005, he ran a stop sign, was stopped, arrested and charged with suspicion of drunken driving. He later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor and was sentenced to three years probation and given a $1,300 fine. During an interview with Stanford in April, Harbaugh mentioned the DUI before being asked about it. “I’ve brought that up with my players a few times,” he said. “I think that’s made me a better counselor than I was before. The way I coached guys before that happened it was like, ‘Why can’t you get it?’ ‘Why can’t you get it right?’ ‘You did this wrong, now fix it!’ I was so much more of a perfectionist, to a fault. But I gained some understanding. In many ways it made me a better person, a better coach, a better counselor.”

Harbaugh was San Diego’s head coach at the time (the college, not the Chargers), and into his own words, that DUI plea game him a better sense of how to deal with these things. We don’t know how Harbaugh is dealing with Smith, because he’s been typically tight-lipped about the whole thing — but there are many who wonder if the same guy who has insisted that he wants his own team to be “above reproach” and is not shy about slamming other teams and programs isn’t missing the forest for the trees in this case.

37 comments
ladyd69
ladyd69

The point of this article is that Harbaugh (and ,though not mentioned but worth pointing out, quite a few 49ers fans) is/are hypocritical, self-righteous, holier-than-thou, self serving liars. Get off your fiinger pointing high horses. Quit criticizing others unless you yourself are free of fault. Just admit you let him play because you felt it gave you a better chance to win. Your excuses of unfair officiating and cheating just makes you look like pathetic little spoiled brats who can't admit that maybe you just got outplayed. And PLEASE quit talking about 'class' like you know what it is. (Hint: I'm not referring to a room used for education which obviously many chose not to attend.)

ShifterKart
ShifterKart

For 1/50 of their salary, I will drive them anywhere at anytime. From a strip club, on drugs etc. whatever they are doing they can do. They will not get a DUI that way.



DEJ1948
DEJ1948

Look, it's all about winning.  Coaches would cut block their own grandmother for another "W".  No reason to get fired up here or try to rationalize behaviors.  It is what it is.

btcvsolo
btcvsolo

There's drunk as a barrel full of monkeys & there's buzzed driving. Which was he? Either or, I never understood why these high-profile millionaires don't just call a cab or a friend. It's like lighting a joint on the (pun alert!) red-eye from LA to NYC. You're GONNA get caught, space-man!

Rickapolis
Rickapolis

It's called hypocrisy, Coach Harbaugh.

CarlosDanger1
CarlosDanger1

Let him play because he is innocent. He was only guilty of driving while black. Clearly racial profiling. Obama should invite him to the White House to promote Obamacare!

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

Won't due anything. Maybe hold him out for a practice and show him how "tough" a coach he is. jim is a talking fool

reader4si
reader4si

This is the other side of the coach, as long as he useful to the coach, the coach will let him play, criminal or not it does not matter to the coach.

MichaelRamsey
MichaelRamsey

We don't know the full story here. Maybe Dobbs was messed up from the arrest and Harbaugh decided he needed time to get things straightened out before rejoining the team and maybe it is the relative value of the two players as everyone suspects. Even if it is he has more than just Aldon to be responsible for the are 50+ Players and coaches depending on his decisions. The fact is Aldon will be punished by the league regardless of what the Niner's do to him why punish the whole team more than it needs to be. If Aldon can put it behind him and play and be what his coaches and teammates need him to be then I say let him. Hopefully though that comes with guidance and help for what is obviously becoming a very large obstacle in his life and career.

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

I don't think Smith's presence will be a difference-maker in the final score.  I love my Colts but, i'm not expecting them to win even if Smith were to sit.  That said, there's no way he should be allowed to play.  He should be forced to realize that actions have consequences!  He's lucky he didn't kill someone drunk driving.  What a selfish jerk!

Pat11
Pat11

Exactly what kind of drug testing is the NFL giving its players. Anytime an arrest is made for drugs the player shouldnt be allowed on a practice field much less a Sunday field unless tested. I guess HGH testing  will be a joke once implemented also. The fans, players union and Goodell  know a extremely high percentage of players are using both recreational drugs and PEDs yet these players get touted in the media when they are nothing but science experiments.

Rebel
Rebel

Smith was probably just trying to drink away the epic butt-whooping laid on the 49ers by Seattle last weekend.

beekay31
beekay31

Illegal hits... DUIs... Is anybody surprised about Harbaugh's giant double standard?  All I see is a guy placing his own personal success above all.

naz51j
naz51j

i don't care how big harbaugh is to the 49ers team, the owners/organization have to grab ahold of this thing, and usurp him and take some immediate stand to right this mess. 

da.takuan
da.takuan

49ers are back in the playoffs, but the are they the flagship team as they once were? Far from it,

yadda71
yadda71

Colts coming to town. Can't suspend one of their best players...

Shooter McGavin 19711
Shooter McGavin 19711

Meh - Harbaugh is no better than guys like Carroll - who promote their players using PEDs to get better.  Harbaugh will suspend a player who really doesn't matter - but a guy like Smith can get as many DUI's as he wants.  Pathetic.  You're a hypocrite Jim.  

sportsGuy12
sportsGuy12

well if your good, I guess a DUI doesn't matter, right Harbaugh?

AdamSWalburger
AdamSWalburger

@btcvsoloThere's drunk as a barrel full of monkeys & there's buzzed driving    Are you serious?  There is drunk driving and there is drunk driving. Our country already has higher legal limits than almost all other countries in the world. Statements like this is why drunk driving deaths are so high.

RobertJacke
RobertJacke

@CarlosDanger1 2nd DUI and you like he was only arrested because he was black, wake up............And arrested at 7:30 in the morning, was he going to practice drunk....

JahliSuwaghaman
JahliSuwaghaman

@Pat11 : People getting drug tested have stayed one step ahead of the testers for decades.   Lance Armstrong was tested how many times again?

E Money1
E Money1

@beekay31 Which illegal hits?? Yes, a coach wanting to win at all costs, I've never heard of such a thing.

xrayspectator
xrayspectator

@naz51j I'm a 49ers fan and think Aldon needs some serious help. The one thing that can be said for not suspending him is that they suspended Dobbs, then the league saw fit to suspend him later on. So, it's hard to justify a team taking care of things in-house if the NFL doesn't recognize that. The league will take care of him soon enough, and they should.

Jeff_Scott
Jeff_Scott

@Shooter McGavin 19711I believe it. Pete "Botox Man" Carroll ran out of town on USC to escape charges. He teaches cheap tactics at the peehawks. Botox Man wrote the book on what you can get away with. He'll do anything to win, even cheat. How the defensive backs and offensive linemen of the peehawks get away with all that holding is beyond me. It's only when the peehawks have a comfy 4th quarter lead do these holding flags ever come out. peehawks are a hack job all around. All the way up to the owner Paul Allen. Wonder how much he pays the officials off each week? No doubt he can afford it.

MikeC65
MikeC65

@Shooter McGavin 19711 Do you have anything like proof for your allegations about PC? Feel free to forward it to the NFL. But yes, Harbaugh is a hypocrite. Actions speak louder than words.

RayIsBipolar
RayIsBipolar

@sportsGuy12 Yep, because Aldon Smith is the first guy to get a pass and play when he breaks the law. Wake up man, this stuff goes on at every level because winning is important. If you don't think so then you must have sucked.

CarlosDanger1
CarlosDanger1

@RobertJacke He is an Obama supporter who loves his alcohol early in the morning. All black people should be allowed to drive drunk in the morning because of racial profiling. I feel sorry for this oppressed athlete who needs more booze.

JustaGuy2
JustaGuy2

 Jeff... Escape charges?  The NCAA investigated for FIVE years.  Was he supposed to stick around forever waiting for them to find something even though he was offered a job in the NFL that gave him EVERYTHING he was looking for?   Do you really think that Reggie Bush asked Pete if it was okay for his parents to accept a house?  If you do, I have an AWESOME piece of waterfront land that I could get you a really good deal on.

adera77
adera77

@btcvsolo @AdamSWalburger then u r a bunch of suck. as a proud american and vet, i can promise you that attitudes like this are exactly why other nationalities often don't care for americans. thanks for perpetuating idiot stereotypes. but not really.