Gary Pinkel: Aldon Smith situation ‘breaks my heart’

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For those attuned to the NFL side of the sport, Aldon Smith‘s ongoing downward spiral both personally and professionally has dominated headlines over the past couple of days. Smith’s now-former NFL coach has very passionately promised that the player won’t be forced to walk alone following yet another alcohol-related arrest.

Similarly, Smith’s college coach is pledging support as well.

Prior to entering the NFL and becoming one of that league’s sack masters, Smith fell under the coaching umbrella of Gary Pinkel at Missouri. Saying Smith was “never a problem, ever” during his time with the Tigers, the Mizzou head coach talked of a broken heart when it came to the (hopefully) rock-bottom situation in which his former player finds himself.

“Aldon, he’s part of our family. I’m going to get a hold of him this week,” Pinkel told Dave Matter of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We feel for him. I want him to get healthy again and get back going.

“Obviously, it breaks my heart when I hear something like that. I’m praying for him and hopefully he can get some help to get better.”

Another of Pinkel’s former players, Sheldon Richardson, was arrested late last month following a high-speed something or other. While Pinkel intimated that the Smith and Richardson incidents weren’t an indictment of his football program — “It’s not the team. It’s not that everything’s awful” — he also stated that it’s not about his football program at all and rather about the two individuals who have some off-field problems they need to get fixed.

“I care about them,” the longtime coach said. “This isn’t about Mizzou football. They were great kids here. Never got in any trouble or anything like that. They’re having some problems. People have that. I just want them to get them fixed so they can have a great life.”