Dude, Onterrio Smith Got Busted

Mike Tice says that the Vikings’ starters may play into the second quarter and Falcons coach Jim Mora, while non-committal about Michael Vick, has indicated that his starters will probably play into the second quarter as well.

That will be nice because it will give Vikings fans plenty of time to watch running back Onterrio Smith, whom it looks like will be joining Kenny Mixon in exile for the first four games of the season. KFAN broke the story that the sophomore back faces a suspension for violating the NFL substance-abuse policy. The KFAN story points out that it is the third violation that triggers the four-game suspension. They speculate that Smith may have entered the league in the first phase of the policy due to substance abuse problems in college.

The violation? He tested positive for marijuana. Smith was tossed out of the University of Tennessee after testing positive for pot and, in 2001, was arrested for drunken driving. This all explains why the guy fell into the fourth round to the Vikings. It’s a bit hard to complain, considering that at the time he was widely considered among the top three tailbacks in the draft. It’s the price you pay, I guess.

Kevin Seifert of the Star Tribune reports that if any appeal fails, Smith "will be ineligible to play until the Oct. 17 game at New Orleans. He also will forfeit four game checks, worth $71,764." [My emphasis.] Well, O., I hope it was good ganja, ’cause that’s one mighty expensive joint! In the same story, the Strib also reports "Second-year player Larry Ned, who likely would have been a final cutdown casualty, now almost certainly will make the team. "

Hmmm….currrrrious. I wonder if Ned and O. hang out together?

Finally, from the Dubious Declaration Department, this: Viking Update‘s Smith story closes with this doozie of a sentence, "Smith remains with the team in Atlanta, but his long term future has come into question."

Really?!? I guess that’s true in as much as any player’s long-term future is in doubt in the NFL. The Vikings passed on a chance to sign a replacement for perennial trouble-maker Kenny Mixon during the offseason, knowing that he’d be suspended for the first four games, so why would the Vikings abandon O. Smith? They paid a clearance sale price for the guy by drafting him in the fourth round and if he continues to perform the way he has, there’s no reason to think the Vikings will all of a sudden dump him because of his first suspension, especially when you consider how deep we are at running back.

Falcons’ top pick (eighth overall) DeAngelo Hall will get a major test today lining up against Randy Moss. The delightful benefits of the mismatch created by making a rookie cover Moss usually accrue to Vikings fans, but you never know; I seem to recall expecting the same when Moss first lined up against one Mike McKenzie, who, at the end of the day, didn’t do such a bad job against Super Freak.

Speaking of cornerbacks: As the Strib’s Seifert points out, with Brian Williams out, tonight’s game will be a good test of the Vikings’ secondary depth.

While reporters interviewing reporters smacks far too much of journalistic incest for my tastes, it nevertheless provides some context to the great videos of the team at training camp that the Star Tribune hosts in their multimedia section. The video features sports editor Willard Woods interviewing beat writer Seifert as the voice-over that accompanies the pictures.

Lastly, another annoying journalistic idiosyncrasy is the way that media outlets handle swear words. I understand that kids will be reading the paper–especially regarding the sports section–and you’d get an avalanche of criticism if you printed those swear words. but it does beg the question of who, exactly, they’re fooling.

Last Wednesday, the Pioneer Press had a textbook example. In a story about Tice’s goofy attempt at instilling the power of positive thinking in his team, the paper printed this quote by Coach Tice: "I told them, if you walk around telling yourself you feel like (junk), you’ll feel like (junk)."

He’s saying "shit," right? I mean, that’s what I’d say. The word gives the sentence a natural feel: "I told them, if you walk around telling yourself you feel like shit, you’ll feel like shit." It is, I’d hazard to guess, a fairly frequently used word from Tice’s lexicon. Do you really think the kids reading that don’t get what word he’s really using?