Notebook: Sharper Ready For Smoot Smack

Vikings safety Darren Sharper knows he won't be facing heads-up with the Vikings' previous king of smack talk in Redskins cornerback Fred Smoot, but Sharper plans to be on the sidelines ready to drop a line or two Smoot's way. Plus, Brad Childress is looking for a loud dome, and Adrian Peterson should be able to afford his Pro Bowl trip with an imminent bonus on the horizon.

Fred Smoot, in his short two-year Vikings career, became a symbol of what was wrong with the Vikings during a tumultuous period in Purple history.

Now, almost one year removed from his career in Minnesota, the wide-grinning cornerback is smiling again … and looking to help fell his former teammates.

"I know a lot about their team. And I will inform my team – like only a real traitor would do," Smoot told Washington reporters with a laugh.

In a sport where personnel can change quickly with the year-to-year whims of free agency, the Vikings and Smoot parted ways on March 1 in a move that truly was the best for both parties.

"I think Fred was as excited to leave Minneapolis as anybody. Quite frankly, I enjoy Fred Smoot. I think he has a great personality. He can keep things loose and laugh. But I am not sure he overall had a great experience here. Sometimes a change of scenery is good," Vikings coach Brad Childress said. "He started for us for a good bit of the season. In the end, it didn't end up working out. That is not the entire reason he is out of town. He probably wanted to go as much as anybody."

Much of the reason Smoot ran back to his original team, the Washington Redskins, after playing only two years of his six-year contract with the Vikings, was because of his role in the Vikings' infamous "boat scandal" of 2005, a bye-week party that also played a big part in the perception that former head coach Mike Tice had lost control of his players.

So when Tice's final season at the helm of the Vikings ship came up short of the playoffs, Tice was fired and Brad Childress was hired.

Smoot came into town in March 2005 and proclaimed how much he like Tice, comparing him to his then-former and now-current coach Joe Gibbs. But when Tice was fired and Childress hired, Smoot seemed to be one of the leaders in applauding the move.

"I'm loving it right now," Smoot told Viking Update during an offseason practice session in 2006. "It differs for the players in winning (points to Childress) and losing (indicating Tice). The proof will be in the pudding. (Childress) is like a no-nonsense guy, but still level-headed and still cool.

"He's still a player's coach. He's not military-minded the way everybody's saying, but he wants stuff done a certain way in a Joe Gibbs-type manner. That's what I'm basically used to."

But, eventually, injuries and off-field tragedy – the death of his half-brother and his own minor car accident – forced Smoot from the starting lineup and eventually from the Vikings' payroll. His desire to get to the playoffs was a motivating factor throughout his time in Minnesota, said former teammate Darren Sharper.

"That is all he talked about when he was here. He was looking forward to trying to get to the playoffs. That was the reason why he came to Minnesota. Now he is still trying to do the same thing with Washington," Sharper said. "He definitely wants to get that taste of playing in the playoffs because he has not experienced that in his career. I know he would be extremely ecstatic if he gets to the playoffs. We have something to say about that. I don't think we want him to get into that spot because we are trying to fight for that spot."

Smoot is back in the starting lineup for a Redskins team that is 7-7 and can keep their playoff hopes alive with a win over the Vikings on Sunday night. The Vikings, at 8-6, would be able to clinch a playoff spot with a win over Washington and a New Orleans loss or tie.

While the playoff implications are the driving force of this Sunday night matchup, the return of Smoot and all his past Minnesota baggage is one interesting sidebar.

"The good thing about Smoot being named Smoot is that when you do boo you don't know if they are saying ‘Smoot' or they are booing," Sharper said. "I expect our fans to get on him a little bit because they always do that when we have guys that return that used to be Vikings. He did have a little bit of a rough time here. I know for sure that he was happy to go back to Washington because he really likes it there. Sometimes you have a situation where things don't work out. Both sides have moved on. It is an ironic situation that we are going to face each other at this point in the season fighting for the playoffs."

The playoff atmosphere could trigger even more big talk from the former Viking who would probably be part of an all-smack-talk team. Only one receiver – Troy Williamson – remains with the Vikings from Smoot's days with the team, but Sharper might help antagonize the motormouth from the South.

"It's going to be like I'm playing against him because whenever he's out there, I'm going to be mouthing off to him," Sharper said. "He'll definitely be talking a lot, but he's playing well. I saw him against the Giants on Sunday night and he's playing extremely well."


After nearly a season-long storyline of the Vikings' ticket sales coming down to the wire to avoid a blackout in the local television market, the team has sold out its final home game of the season without the assistance of an extension past the Thursday deadline or a corporate buyout.

A Metrodome full of Vikings fans and another national television audience has Childress hoping the crowd will be a beneficial factor.

"I think it makes the communication tough, whether it be coach to quarterback or at the line of scrimmage or any of those types of things," Childress said. "When you see four pre-snap penalties like that (from the Chicago Bears on Monday night), you can say new quarterback, but you are always looking at guys wanting to get a jump early, maybe trying to anticipate snap count, that type of thing."


Adrian Peterson's early part of February could get pretty expensive. Fullback Tony Richardson has informed the rookie running back that he should be ready to pay for quite a few other Vikings at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii.

"A couple of guys already gave me a heads up to have my card ready so I guess it is just part of it," said Peterson, who plans to pay the way for a number of family members, along with some wide receivers and the offensive linemen.

With six other Vikings selected to the Pro Bowl, it could become an expensive trip, but Peterson can probably afford it. Part of the six-year contract he signed in August includes a $1 million bonus if he has a Pro Bowl year that includes 1,300 yards rushing. He has 1,278 yards rushing entering Sunday night's game.

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