MINNEAPOLIS -- In the department of things too good not to share, we bring you this, from Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post.
Remember Fred Smoot's illustrious tenure with the Vikings? We're guessing you do, more because of how the cornerback (and many of his teammates) spent his 2005 bye week than anything he did on the field. Smoot, of course, was a central figure in the 2005 "Love Boat" scandal, when the Vikings chartered a yacht on Lake Minnetonka and proceeded to turn the ship into a bawdy party boat. Smoot and two other players -- offensive tackle Bryant McKinnie and running back Moe Williams -- were convicted of misdemeanor charges for the incident, but it didn't stop Smoot from playing another four years after the incident, three of those with the Washington Redskins.
Now that he's retired from the league and trying to keep his name in the public eye (partly through sports talk radio), Smoot is throwing a charity event he's calling "The Fred Smoot Love Boat Part 2." Proceeds will benefit the Wounded Warrior Project, he says, and while organizers say it will be a "wholesome good time," they also promise "three hours on a damn boat with Fred Smoot and other former/current NFL players."
Smoot needs 200 people to sign up for the event to happen. But if his main goal is to get people talking about him again, he's already succeeded.
Along these lines, though, we must share one other story related to that fateful voyage. It happened when the Vikings were in London for their game against the Pittsburgh Steelers in September, and former Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper -- who had disorderly conduct charges dropped after being on the boat -- was appearing at a fan event the day before the game with ESPN NFL analyst Merrill Hoge and former Vikings receiver-turned-sportscaster Ahmad Rashad.
The event was mostly full of benign questions about the experience of playing in the NFL, the inner workings of the game, etc., but right at the end of the event, a Steelers fan in a Jerome Bettis jersey stood up, took the microphone and said to Culpepper, "Daunte, we have a number of delightful river cruises on the Thames. Will you be bringing some of your mates on one of those while you're here?"
The question was met with a quick, "Well, that's all the time we have!" while two other reporters and I stood in the back of the room with dropped jaws, but Culpepper took the ribbing in stride. He even posed for a picture with the fan's son after the event. But it served to prove that more than eight years after it happened, the Love Boat scandal still maintains notoriety worldwide.