The Cowboys raised plenty of eyebrows when they decided to sign defensive end Aldon Smith to a one-year deal, given that he hasn’t played a down of football since 2015 and has a history of issues off the field, mostly around his alcohol problems. He is also still suspended indefinitely by the NFL. At the time that the signing was reported by Jay Glazer, he announced to the world that Smith has been involved with Glazer’s Merging Vets and Players organization, and, importantly, that he’s been sober for nine months.
On Monday morning, Glazer dished out some new details regarding Smith during his regular NFL mailbag piece with The Athletic, which can be read in full here. Glazer was asked for more details about the Smith signing and he certainly delivered:
Yeah, Smith was introduced to me by someone who is on the advisory board of Merging Vets and Players to have him come join MVP.
We’re going on nine months now and he has not missed a single session. Not one in nine months! He’s shown accountability to the whole group. He really bonded with the veterans. He’s talked about his sobriety. It’s not the easiest thing in the world to open up to 80 to 100 total strangers in a group setting, but a lot of our vets are battling sobriety issues, too, and Smith has been extremely vulnerable and open about it. Vulnerability is real strength, not the muscles on the outside.
They bonded so much that when we opened up our New York MVP location a month ago, he flew in to talk about sobriety with the new vets and players we were going to have there. Think about that! He’s just not the same guy I met nine months ago. He’s a totally different guy.
Glazer went on to explain the details of some of the work Smith did and how he hopes to use his return to football to inspire others:
Ironically, the vet he bonded with most, a guy named Sergio, is a huge Cowboys fan. Sergio has done great. His unit in the Marines, the 2/7, has lost 45 to suicide. Forty-five. Smith got particularly close to Sergio and has been a great listener.
When he signed his contract, he was incredibly grateful for where his life had been. He told the whole MVP team, “I’m really going to help a lot of people with my story.” It was beautiful. It really touched a lot of our vets. They told him they can’t wait for the first game with him standing on the sidelines. The flag is raised, anthem playing, he literally now has an army that is rooting for him behind him. Nine months ago, he never knew it would be possible.
Of course, one of the big questions about Smith as a player is what kind of shape he’ll be in. When Smith first began running into trouble, he was on the path towards becoming a perennial All Pro and being compared to Hall of Famers. But now? It turns out Smith might even be in better shape than he was back in 2015:
Physically, we trained him at Unbreakable Performance and got him up to about 287 pounds, completely rocked up, solid as can be, very low body fat. He has trained his butt off. His conditioning is great. I think he played at 260. We got him to 287. He is just freaking monstrous. We do this hand-fighting drill, me and the guys. We had him on these resistance cords connected to the wall on a machine called the Raptor. I’ve had a ton of guys on it — big huge guys, monsters. Smith ripped it off the wall, doing hand-fighting and exploding off the line. No one has ever done that. He is an absolute freak of nature. I don’t know who to compare him to because he’s 287 with a V. It’s ridiculous. I’m excited to get him back there.
I’m more excited to get him to Dallas so I don’t have to wrestle and box with the freakin’ guy anymore. We get a little too rambunctious and, well, there’s quite a size difference between us, so yes, Dallas, please get his ass down there and let my body heal up!
This is doubly good news for Cowboys fans. Not only does it seem like Smith has really turned his life around and understands the value of the opportunity he’s been given, it sounds like he might be ready to contribute to the team right away as well. Here’s hoping that Smith is able to pull off what could be one of the better career comebacks in sports history.