Fred Smoot admits there were no hard feelings when he left Washington to sign a six-year, $34 million free-agent contract with the Vikings in March 2005. But that doesn't mean the veteran cornerback isn't looking forward to returning to FedEx Field for the first time.
"Anytime you go back to your old stomping grounds, you want to leave an impression on what they're missing out on," Smoot said. "It's still intense for me, believe me. I'm going back to FedEx. After playing there for four years, you know you want to go back and leave a sour taste in their mouth."
Smoot also will attempt to prove to the Vikings that they made a good investment when they gave him a $10.8 million bonus to sign. He didn't have much luck doing that last season under former coach Mike Tice.
Smoot's problems began early when he was a central figure in the infamous Love Boat incident during the team's bye week in October. Shortly thereafter, Carolina receiver Steve Smith had a career day against Smoot, catching 11 passes for a team-record 201 receiving yards.
He later missed four games because of a broken collarbone and was benched for the season finale after missing curfew. Smoot has said repeatedly during training camp how he likes playing for new coach Brad Childress and his staff - a not so subtle dig at Tice and the former defensive assistants.
But not everything has gone perfectly in the preseason for Smoot. He suffered bruised ribs in the third preseason game against Baltimore and missed the exhibition finale at Dallas. Smoot is listed as questionable on the injury report but made it clear he has no intention of sitting out against his ex-team.
"I wouldn't be out here practicing if I wasn't playing," Smoot said.
A second-round pick of the Redskins in 2001, Smoot had 16 interceptions in his four seasons with the team. He set a franchise record by leading Washington in interceptions in each of his first three seasons.
"I didn't leave there on bad terms," Smoot said. "That doesn't mean I don't want to come back and have it be a fairy tale."
He also doesn't expect fans to be cheering for him, at least during the game.
"I'm the enemy now. Why would you cheer for me? I think at the end of the game, when a winner is decided, maybe I'll get some love then, but I don't expect to get any before the game," he said.
Smoot Holds No Ill Will
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