No, No Onterrio

The Vikings head into the draft mindful that the league has no intention of letting Onterrio Smith off of his one-year suspension just yet.

It was a little over a year ago -- 4/21/05 to be exact -- that Vikings fans and most of the rest of the sports world learned the phrase "The Original Whizzinator." That product was brought to the attention of the masses when Onterrio Smith was detained at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport with the now-infamous product in his luggage.

For Smith, who was suspended four games in 2004 for testing positive for marijuana, it was a third strike in the league's substance abuse program. He was suspended for one year on June 7, 2005. While many believed that he would be eligible to return to the league at that point, Smith may have to sit longer.

Under the rules of the program, it is at the discretion of the commissioner when and if a player returns from a suspension in the substance abuse program. Former Viking Dale Carter, if you recall, had to sit out 18 months while the league delayed a decision on when he would be reinstated following a year-long suspension while a member of the Broncos.

Smith, a former fourth-round pick of the Vikings, was tossed from the Tennessee program after testing positive for marijuana in college. He became famous for calling himself S.O.D. -- Steal of the Draft. But now it looks as though S.O.L. may be a more appropropriate acronym.

The timing of the decision may be directed more toward the Vikings than Smith. The team is already without 2005 RBs Michael Bennett and Moe Williams and now it appears as though any plans to bring back Smith are forcibly being put on the back burner. However, as first reported last month, there were indications back then that the Vikings may not want to bring him back anyway. The Vikings already signed Chester Taylor to be their feature back, but that might not preclude them from selecting a running back at some point in the draft now that Smith's NFL career may be up in smoke.

* To the surprise of few, Brett Favre reportedly told the Packers Tuesday that he will be coming back for a 16th season. The Packers had asked for an answer prior to the draft so the team could assess the direction it would be heading in 2006 and, despite a few delays, Favre said he will come back for a final year.
* The Vikings may have more than a passing interest in what the Jets are up to. It seems the Jets might be interested in trading both of their first-round picks. They currently sit with the fourth overall pick and have an interest in nose tackle Haloti Ngata. There have been rumors of trade talks with the Raiders, who seem willing to move up to No. 4 and take QB Vince Young, allowing the Jets to drop three slots and take Ngata at No. 7. There is also talk that the Jets would be willing to package the 29th overall pick -- obtained from Atlanta when the team signed John Abraham -- and their pick early in the second round to move up to No. 13 with the Ravens if Jay Cutler is still on the board. If these moves pan out, the ordinarily unhappy Jets fans on draft day may have something to cheer about.
* As expected, the league gave Ricky Williams a one-year suspension for his fourth strike against the league's substance abuse policy.
* The Vikings have hired groundskeeping turf guru George Toma to improve the quality of the team's turf at Winter Park. The Vikings have both FieldTurf and natural grass surfaces at their training facility.

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