My amateur opinion was that Aldon Smith never took responsibility for his actions.
Maybe I was wrong. But that's the impression I got from him, including a time we spoke at length during the 2014 offseason when he came by our studios on Third Street in San Francisco. He visited some tech companies in the South Bay and our studios to get out and gain a greater perspective in life.
On the outside, it looked as if his life was spiraling out of control. But when you spoke with him, he portrayed himself as if he had everything under control. And he could be convincing, too.
That's why I never really thought Smith had a chance to succeed in a comeback attempt.
Then, I read something Wednesday night that changed my mind. Or, at least, it gave me hope that Smith has turned an important corner. Smith posted a statement on his Instagram account after signing a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
There is beauty in the struggle.
Life will always present us w/tests. I've learned how to take a different perspective on the adversities of life. Instead of looking at life as a victim, I have embraced the journey as God has planned it, making exponential strides towards becoming a better man.
Take this time that we have away from our normal day to day activities and think about changing your perspectives. Focus not on how bad this situation is but instead on how we can all come out of this better people. Let's work on the things we have been putting off and grow towards our ultimate potential.
I never thought Smith was a bad guy. Never. His was a sad story, for sure.
But I always felt he never took responsibilities for his actions -- the actions that derailed his Hall-of-Fame start with the 49ers and ended his tenure with the Raiders before it really even began.
There might have been plenty of underlying reasons Smith had run-ins with the law and issues with substances of abuse. But there are also a lot of people who went through worse and did not repeatedly make the same mistakes, the same poor decisions.
I was not sure how to feel about the latest, unexpected Smith news after Jay Glazer of Fox Sports and The Athletic broke the story that Smith signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Cowboys.
Glazer described Smith as "clean and sober now." He added, it is "incredible how much he's turned his life around." Glazer revealed he has been around Smith for more than a year with the Merging Vets & Players program. Smith has been "amazing in helping veterans dealing with sobriety issues while getting help himself."
While I did not doubt any of what Glazer described, what provided the most reason for hope came from Smith -- "instead of looking at life as a victim." I can't tell you how happy I was to read those words.
Smith is 30. He has not played in the NFL since 2015. I can only imagine what he faces daily. It is not just a matter of mental toughness or will power. If only it were that easy for him and the many others who deal with similar issues.
It means little to me how well Smith performs on the field this season and, possibly, in the next few years. The important part is that he sets himself up for the many, many years after his playing days are over.
This is a great step on that journey.
Why Aldon Smith not labeling self as 'victim' is great sign of growth originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area