Smoot Pessimistic

All season Redskins corner Fred Smoot expressed little doubt that he would return to Washington in 2005.

Until now. Smoot said today that he's less optimistic about coming back next season and could sign elsewhere when he becomes a free agent this winter.

''Just say it's a gut feeling,'' Smoot said. ''A gut feeling.''

When asked if he felt that if there was no deal before season's end, then there'd be no deal at all, Smoot said, ''Yeah, that's how I think.''

But Redskins coach/president Joe Gibbs does not share Smoot's cloudy outlook. Considering he'll probably have final say in the decision, that's a big deal. Gibbs considers him one of his core players.

''We really like him,'' Gibbs said. ''He's a heck of a player and he has a great outlook on things. We'll make every effort to sign him. We were going hard at it and then it reached a point where there was a stalemate. Both sides reached a point where we both said we're better off waiting.''

Smoot said he will miss the season finale with a bruised kidney, suffered in Sunday's loss at Dallas. He acknowledged that game might have been his last with Washington.

If a new deal is not reached, it won't be because of a change of heart by Smoot. The fourth-year corner has long maintained his desire to play in Washington. He said his agent is still talking with the Redskins.

Smoot's outlook seemed to worsen several weeks ago, coinciding with a brief moody period by the usually ebullient corner.

''I want to be here bad,'' Smoot said. ''It's not about me wanting to be here, it's about them wanting me to be here. I was talking to Champ about two or three weeks ago and that's all he was saying. It's never the player. It's all about the front office and do they want me here. . . . You're only where you're wanted.

''[Champ said], 'Don't look at the team when it comes to the money part of it. Look at the team, the coaches, the scheme they run, the group of guys you're going to play with. Look at the whole scenario.' ''

Meanwhile, Smoot said he's feeling better after Sunday's injury. He stayed overnight in a Dallas hospital because some bleeding in his kidney.

He didn't realize the severity of the injury at first.

''Once I got to the sideline I just started throwing up,'' Smoot said. ''I couldn't stop. They gave me a pill to stop the nausea. Then my back and my stomach kept getting warm and I couldn't stand up straight. I tried to go back in the game, but [strength coach John Hastings] said, 'No, don't go back in the game. I'm gonna have a doctor check something out.' The doctor checked me out. That's when they took me in. I didn't know it was that bad.''

It's the second straight season he has bad memories of Dallas, having played with a bad sternum there last year, causing him to vomit on the sidelines that day as well.

''I hate Dallas. I was riding past the field the day after and I was like, 'I wish I had a match. I would burn it down.' I hate Texas Stadium. For real, I hate it.''

Smoot also picked a side in Jersey-gate. Former Redskins safety Ifeanyi Ohalete is suing running back Clinton Portis to collect $20,000. Portis had signed a contract agreeing to pay Ohalete $40,000 to obtain the jersey No. 26. He has reportedly paid half.

''Obviously he wants his money and he's ready to go to People's Court to get it,'' Smoot said. ''If I'm a judge I have to look at the big picture. Clinton, rich. He's rich. They did have an agreement so I might have to go with Ifeay there. He got it in writing. I talked to Clinton about it and he said, 'He's suing me, what do I need to do?' I said, 'You have to pay him the money; you're gonna have to pay 40 Gs and then pay court costs. You can get around that.' ''


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