By Howard Bryant
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, September 9, 2006
After a year of embarrassment and legal troubles, the last thing Minnesota cornerback Fred Smoot would want is to be reminded of the 2005 sex boat incident that marred the Vikings' season and contributed to the departure of former coach Mike Tice and perennial Pro Bowl quarterback Daunte Culpepper.
After Smoot and several other Vikings were accused of lewd behavior aboard two cruise boats last October, Smoot pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct and being a public nuisance and agreed to a $1,000 fine and community service.
But a relentless assault of sex boat jokes is what Smoot, the former second-round draft pick of the Redskins who played in Washington from 2001 to 2004, will have to endure when the Redskins and Vikings open the season Monday night at FedEx Field.
Smoot could be seen as an easy target because of the controversy last season, and because of the nicknames he gave some former teammates. Middle linebacker Lemar Marshall was nicknamed "Catfish" because Smoot believed Marshall's face resembled one. He called cornerback Shawn Springs "Blue Foot" because Smoot said Springs's complexion was so dark it made his skin look blue. Springs nicknamed Smoot "Silky Johnson" after a character on "Chappelle's Show."
"I can't wait to see my man Smoot out there. I might give him a little type of boat or something, a little replica. Give it to him and put it in his locker," defensive lineman Renaldo Wynn said. "He's never going to hear the end of that. He's always going to be known as the guy that started the Love Boat. Hopefully, that might distract him a little bit, talking to him on the field."
Springs, who is doubtful for Monday's game as he recovers from abdominal surgery, was equally merciless.
"That's the thing about football that I love," he said. "You get to go out and become friends with guys. Fred and I are business partners. We're starting a cruise line in Miami. We're calling it the Love Boat."Week 2 for '2-6'?
Running back Clinton Portis practiced for a time in pads during yesterday's shortened practice but, as he did Thursday, he essentially ruled himself out for Monday's game.
"The way things look, bro, we'll aim to probably see 2-6 against Dallas," Portis said, referring to his number and to the Redskins' second game of the season, Sept. 17 in Dallas.
"Who knows? Hopefully, I can come back against Dallas, but if not, I should be ready for [Week 3 against] Houston. I'm trying to work my way back. They want me 100 percent, fully competent. They want to see me go and bench 285 and I told him I've never benched 285 in my life."Defense Has Backup Plan
Redskins assistant head coach-defense Gregg Williams is preparing for action without Springs, the starting left cornerback. Kenny Wright and Mike Rumph will receive the bulk of the playing time.
"We've done good work. We've been prepared for all the different kinds of combinations depending on how many guys we dress on game day," Williams said. "We have packages to play multiple corners and change things up, and again, my comfort level there is, thank goodness for [cornerbacks coach] Jerry Gray. Anybody else coaching corners for us right now, I'd be driving them nuts, but Jerry's been through all those things as a player with me."
Williams also said he was impressed with rookie linebacker Rocky McIntosh.
"He's come a long way," he said. "I'm very impressed with his toughness, and very impressed with his resiliency as a rookie to block out distractions, me included, because you have to be able to pay your dues and slow your heartbeat down and not be all caught up in the hoopla. The first regular season game for a rookie is also kind of shattering to their confidence, but since he comes from a big-time program [Miami] that plays with an attitude anyway, he'll have an easier adjustment."