Smith likely to play for Vikings despite arrest, Childress says
Coach Brad Childress said Saturday that he anticipates Smith playing. Childress deferred comment and announcement of discipline until the case is resolved.
"I am going to get all the facts before I pass any judgment on it," Childress said.
The incident occurred Thursday night, and Smith practiced as usual Friday and Saturday. Childress said he addressed the matter with the team Friday.
According to the Minneapolis police report, Smith's vehicle was stopped for impeding traffic at a downtown intersection. An officer "smelled the strong odor" of the drug as he approached the car, and Smith -- according to the report -- said he had "just got done smoking some marijuana."
The charge is punishable by a $125 fine for a first offense.
Smith was absent from the locker room on Saturday while it was open to reporters. He is a member of Childress's eight-player veteran leadership committee, as is Williams and cornerback Antoine Winfield.
"It's not a big deal at all. You know things happen. Unfortunately, that did. We still don't know all the facts," Winfield said, adding: "Of course you don't want to be the guy that's getting in trouble or called out, but until everything comes out we're just moving on."
Childress declined to acknowledge any disappointment -- at least not yet -- in Smith.
"I just prefer to center all my attentions on all the positives that have occurred this year and all the good, and I think that all the virtue has to be defended," the coach said.
Childress said he spent an evening last spring on the beat with city cops, taking in the scene first hand. He used the experience to develop an educational video for his players that covered the potential dangers of downtown socializing.
"I initiated it, but they were nice enough to let me come down there and catch me up to speed," Childress said. "I don't profess to be in that area, but I like to know where our guys go here from Eden Prairie down there and what the dynamics are, if you will."
Childress said he even left his phone number on the squad bulletin board as a reminder of his availability to talk with police.
"Not because we expect anything other than regular treatment. I expect my guys to comport themselves the right way, but I like to know what I am faced with," Childress said.
Though his teammates and his coach downplayed the distraction, the Vikings (7-6) didn't need this while they're pushing for the playoffs. Especially with the top two backup safeties, Tank Williams (doubtful, knee) and Mike Doss (questionable, hamstring), on this week's injury report. Rookie Eric Frampton is the only other safety on the active roster, beside starter Darren Sharper.
Smith, who could face a suspension from the NFL, though probably not until next year, has been in trouble before.
He was cited for indecent conduct with a woman in a downtown stairwell in August 2006 and kept out of the season opener by Childress because of that. The coach has also benched Smith for the opening series of two other games for unspecified disciplinary reasons, most recently on Dec. 2 against the Detroit Lions.
In 2003, when he was with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Smith pleaded guilty to pulling a gun on a motorist. For that, he was fined $225, placed on probation for one year, and ordered to take anger management classes and complete 25 hours of community service.
The franchise has an infamous history of off-the-field transgressions, most notably the 2005 bye-week boat party that resulted in misdemeanor charges of indecent and disorderly conduct for three players. Early in last season's training camp, wide receiver Koren Robinson drove recklessly and drunk a few weeks before Smith was caught in the stairwell.
This year, though, the police blotter has been quiet. An arrest of cornerback Cedric Griffin in April for disorderly conduct at a nightclub was the only sign of misbehavior that became public, until this week when Smith was allegedly caught with the pot.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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