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Could Aldon Smith have avoided off-field troubles if there was no lockout?

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San Francisco 49ers' second-year linebacker Aldon Smith is recovering from minor injuries suffered at a house party last Saturday, according to a team report. Three people ended up being taken to the hospital afterwards.

“The San Francisco 49ers are aware that Aldon Smith incurred minor injuries during an incident last night," said general manager Trent Baalke in a statement. "We are in contact with Aldon, and thankful that his injuries were not more serious and that he is recovering comfortably. The 49ers are also in communication with local authorities as they gather information regarding the incident, and will reserve further comment at this time."

Smith thanked his fans and family on Twitter when the news was made public.

Thanks everyone for [your] support and concerns.

This marks the second off-the-field incident Smith has been involved in since being on the 49ers. In January, he was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol in Miami. According to the police report, Smith's car was swerving abruptly in traffic.

For a young start athlete at the age of 22 making millions of dollars, it’s hard to not be able to find a balance of responsibility and excitement at that age. And part of this irresponsible behavior could be traced back to the lockout.

Smith wasn't given a learning experience during his rookie season like new teammate A.J. Jenkins is receiving during spring practices. Instead, Smith was thrown into the fire with an immediate training camp when the lockout ended. Smith had no time to learn about the transition from the college game to being a professional athlete.

The loss of time during the lockout prevented Smith from talking with the 49ers throughout the spring and most of the summer. He had no opportunity to build a strong support system because teams were not allowed to talk to their players during the lockout. The coaching staff couldn't discipline or set rules for Smith during that time frame with no contact allowed.

Had there not been a lockout, things might have been different.

This past week, the NFL hosted their annual rookie symposium in Ohio for the draftees to attend. Several past troubled NFL players spoke out on their experiences as a word of advice to the new rookies on how to stay out of trouble. Eagles quarterback Michael Vick and Bengals cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones were among the veterans who spoke. Detroit Lions DT Nick Fairley, who has had two off-field incidents this offseason, was the only non-rookie to attend this symposium.

"I wouldn't want any of those guys to go through what I've gone through," said Jones in an interview. "It's not fun being on the news everyday for this mistake or that mistake because your boy did this or you did that."

Jones had numerous suspensions throughout his career in the NFL. His most infamous moment came from a Las Vegas shooting incident in 2007. As a result, he was suspended for the entire season by the NFL. He said it was one of the most foolish decisions in his life. Even though he didn't tell the details of things he did, he told them how important it is to stay in the NFL.

"If I could tell them anything, I just want them to realize this is a business," said Jones in an interview. "When you sign your contract, you are the head CEO of your company. The Adam Jones Company -- whatever it is. We can't go running down a field for the rest of our life."

The NFL should have had second-year players attend this event. It was an opportunity missed by the league.

It would've been a great learning experience someone like Smith. Ever since Roger Goodell has been the NFL commissioner, the league has cracked down players for their off-the-field behavior. There have been several suspensions handed down by the league for various actions by players. And this offseason hasn’t gotten off to a great start either.

Last year’s draft class should have been given this advice for the future so there would be valuable information to the young players who didn't have the full offseason. Last year’s NFLPA symposium wasn’t mandatory, but it was put together so quickly that some rookies opted not to participate.

If the league wanted to back up its wishes of less off-the-field incidents, the second-year players should have been required to attend the rookie symposium with the current class. At least that would have given the league the opportunity to help out the players the lockout neglected last year.

And for Smith, it could have been the difference that prevented him from getting a DUI and injured at this weekend’s party. He's still a very young man that's trying to learn about being a professional.

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