The San Francisco 49ers' All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith has been suspended by the NFL for nine games due to violations of its personal conduct and substance abuse policies.
The speculation had been that Smith would receive a penalty of six to eight games. But the suspension will put him out until Monday, Nov. 10, and he will miss games against the Cowboys, Bears, Cardinals, Eagles, Chiefs, Rams and Saints. The first game Smith would be eligible for is against the New York Giants on Nov. 16.
Smith's legal troubles have been well publicized. Last month, a Santa Clara County judge sentenced him to 11 days on a work crew, three years probation and 235 hours of community service for illegal weapons possession and drunken driving. Smith pleaded no contest to the charges.
USA Today has additional details on the negotations that went on behind the scenes over the suspension:
A person with knowledge of the process, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation, said Smith's representatives and the league reached a settlement that allows him to be at the team facility and in meetings during his suspension.
The suspension didn't come down until Friday because talks were ongoing, the person said, and the final sticking point was whether the ban would be eight or nine games – four games for the substance-abuse violation and either four or five for personal conduct.
The recent suspension of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice for a domestic violence incident has weighed on the Smith decision. Rice's two-game suspension drew widespread criticism as a slap on the wrist.