METAIRIE, La. – For the first time since NFL commissioner Roger Goodell suspended the New Orleans Saints’ Will Smith for four games, he spoke publicly about why he hasn’t made his thoughts available to the masses.
“My position stands with the rest of the guys,” Smith said. “I didn’t really think there was a need for me to come out and just reiterate everything everybody else is saying. I’m on the same page as those guys and hopefully we’ll get some result.”
Along with former Saints Scott Fujita and Anthony Hargrove, Smith is waiting on how a court case involving current New Orleans linebacker Jonathan Vilma turns out. All four were suspended, Fujita getting three games, Hargove for eight, Smith for four and Vilma for the entire 2012 season.
The punishments came down for what the NFL says were leadership roles in an alleged bounty program the Saints ran from 2009-11.
Not surprisingly, Smith doesn’t agree with Goodell’s decision.
“Obviously I don’t think it’s fair,” Smith said. “Obviously I think the commissioner made a mistake. All the repots that went out there, a lot of people would agree with that. Ultimately, he made the call and it’s in the court system. We’ll see what happens. If I’ve got to serve the four games, I’ll serve the four games. When I come back, I’ll be 100 percent ready to go and lead my team.”
It’s not the first time Smith has had to wait and see whether a suspension would be upheld. The Saints and Smith spent 2009 and 2010 waiting to see if a lawsuit in a Minnesota court would overturn an NFL suspension related to StarCaps.
Smith ended up missing the first two games of the 2011 season after the suspension was reduced.
“We’ve been able to practice it before,” defensive line coach Bill Johnson said. “We’ve been through it. It’s not a situation we hadn’t had to account for. I’ve been here four years and every year until last year it was that possibility. I hadn’t been here for a training camp where we didn’t have that possibility.”
Smith, for now, knows of only one way to move on while everything is pending.
“It’s tough because you don’t know what’s going to happen,” Smith said. “You try not to focus on that. You try to focus on learning the defense, practicing hard and doing the little things to make me a better player and try not to worry about that.”