NFL Officially Suspends Smith

The NFL officially brought the hammer down Tuesday, suspending Onterrio Smith for at least one year.

The NFL let its wrath be known Tuesday when what had been speculated for more than a month internally and for a little less than a month publicly -- Onterrio Smith was handed a one-year suspension -- became official.

While the decision was no surprise, there are still some unanswered questions. What does one year mean in the suspension process? If it is 16 games, Smith would be allowed to return to the Vikings for minicamp following the 2006 draft. If it means one calendar year, he would not only miss the season, but the team's developmental camp schedule for 2006.

Perhaps even more troubling for Smith is that there is no guarantee he will automatically be resinstated in one year. The league policy says that, after one year, a player can petition for reinstatement, but nothing saying it needs to immediately be granted. Former Viking Dale Carter, one of the 17 other players suspended for one year since the policy came into place in 1995, had to sit an additional six months before the NFL ruled on his case -- which added up to more than half of the regular season when he finally did return.

Smith's salary won't be paid in 2005 and won't count against the Vikings salary cap. Until he returns, he will have the same contract -- as if 2005 simply didn't exist. But there are rumblings from within that Smith has played his last game as a Viking.

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