San Francisco 49ers outside linebacker Aldon Smith going to treatment for alcohol issues could provide a mitigating factor when the NFL contemplates if it will suspend him for violations of the personal conduct policy.

"Yes, it will be a factor, for sure," NFL commissioner Roger Goodell told Bay Area reporters in London.

Smith entered a rehab center in September following his second drunken driving arrest.

"Certainly, the issue here isn't to discipline players. It's to stop the behavior," Goodell said. "Aldon has voluntarily said, 'I need help.'

"We're obviously there to support him, and the 49ers did a great job getting him into a facility to try to get help. We support that."

Goodell is no fan of players playing immediately after an arrest as Smith did, but acknowleged a difficult situation due to NFL Players Association rules.

"We've made a couple of proposals to our union that we should take quicker action. But they've resisted that," Goodell said. "We have to operate within the context of the collective bargaining agreement and joint drug program. That's something we weren't in position to do."

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Aaron Wilson covers the Ravens for The Baltimore Sun.