It didn’t come in the strong tone that quarterback Drew Brees recently used, but New Orleans defensive end Will Smith also was critical of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and his handling of the Saints’ bounty situation.
“Obviously I don’t think it’s fair,” Smith told the media Thursday. “Obviously I think the commissioner made a mistake. All the reports 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.”
Smith (four games) and linebacker Jonathan Vilma (the entire season) were the only two current Saints players to draw suspensions. Goodell upheld his decisions in the appeals process. But some last-ditch legal moves still could wipe out or at least postpone the start of the suspensions.
Smith has been through a similar situation before. News that Smith and several other players tested positive for a dietary supplement first broke in 2008 and suspensions were supposed to begin in the 2009 season. But legal proceedings allowed Smith to continue playing in 2009 and ’10. He finally had to serve a two-game suspension at the start of last season.
“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.”