Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smith Deserves Benefit of the Doubt This Time

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Smith Deserves Benefit of the Doubt This Time

Article excerpt

Byline: Gene Frenette, Times-Union sports writer

Nothing about this did-he-or-didn't-he saga involving Jimmy Smith makes any sense. It's like trying to put together a puzzle where only half the pieces fit.

Suddenly, talk about the Jaguars' exasperating season has been shoved aside by a nightmarish debate of whether the team's four-time Pro Bowl receiver is a drug user.

Whether you're close friends with Smith, a casual acquaintance or among thousands of Jaguars fans who hold him in high regard as a player and citizen, it is a mind-boggling thought.

This isn't R. Jay Soward that we're talking about. This is a 32-year-old husband and father of three kids who has made a lot of right moves on and off the field since coming to Jacksonville as a no-name free agent in February, 1995.

Rumors that Smith tested positive for cocaine from a urine sample he voluntarily gave to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office during his Nov. 11 arrest on a DUI charge had been circulating for nearly two weeks.

When the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the state attorney's office made Smith's positive test official yesterday (while dropping the DUI charge), one of this city's most embraceable athletes had three options: run and hide from the negative publicity, refer the media to his attorney, Hank Coxe, or challenge the findings.

The most productive NFL wide receiver in the last six seasons went on the offensive. Before an inquisitive media, he proclaimed that he led a drug-free lifestyle. There was no mistaking the force in Smith's denial, saying: "I've never done [cocaine], don't do it and I don't plan to do it."

On the other hand, the videotape of his field sobriety test where he tells the arresting officer that he goes home and gets drunk after every game is an eyebrow-raiser. …

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