One month after coach John Harbaugh emphasized a high standard for players' conduct, starting cornerback Jimmy Smith became the latest Ravens player to be arrested during an unusually rocky offseason.
Smith, 25, was charged Saturday night with failure to obey a lawful order of a police officer, a misdemeanor, after an incident at the Greene Turtle in Towson, making him the fifth Ravens player to be arrested since February.
Police responding to a call about an unconscious woman in a bathroom at the York Road bar said they found Smith helping an intoxicated woman in the women's restroom. When asked to step aside and leave the restroom, Smith refused to comply and became argumentative, and was eventually handcuffed, police said.
When asked for identification, police said, Smith answered: “I'm Jimmy Smith, I play for the Ravens,” before producing his Maryland driver's license.
No other NFL team has had as many arrests as the Ravens this offseason, with the other 31 teams combining for 14 arrests. The number of Ravens arrested this year marks one more than the team's total during the previous six years.
“Pro teams are sort of a different universe,” said Sean Brickell, a public relations and crisis communications expert from Virginia Beach, Va., who represents the Norfolk Tides' minor league baseball team. “These guys have extraordinary talents. Most of them are young and have been singled out for their talents and skills and made to feel very special. They're suddenly dealing with a lot of adoration and money and don't really know how to conduct themselves very well yet.”
Ravens officials are aware of Smith's arrest.
“We're gathering information about this,” said Kevin Byrne, Ravens senior vice president of public and community relations.
The highest-profile case involving a Ravens player this year occurred when running back Ray Rice was arrested in February and charged with felony aggravated assault in Atlantic City, N.J., after a physical altercation with his then-fiancee, Janay Palmer, whom he later married. Rice resolved his legal situation when he was accepted into a pretrial diversion program that didn't include jail time.
The Ravens and Rice are awaiting word from the NFL on any potential discipline for the three-time Pro Bowl running back from NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Rice could face a multigame suspension under the NFL's personal-conduct policy.
A week after Rice was arrested at Revel Casino, wide receiver Deonte Thompson was arrested for felony possession of marijuana in Gainesville, Fla. But Thompson's case was dismissed when another passenger in the car accepted responsibility for the drugs.
Reserve Ravens offensive lineman Jah Reid was arrested in March for misdemeanor battery in Key West, Fla. Reid also was accepted into a pretrial diversion program.
Rookie running back Lorenzo Taliaferro was charged with misdemeanor destruction of property and drunk and disorderly conduct in May in Williamsburg, Va. He has been assigned a July 31 court date.
During the Ravens' final week of minicamp, owner Steve Bisciotti and director of player development Harry Swayne conducted a meeting attended by every player, coach and member of the front office. The primary message was about respect and acceptance in the workplace, which every NFL team is discussing in the aftermath of a bullying scandal that enveloped the Miami Dolphins last year, as well as the St. Louis Rams' selection of Michael Sam, the first openly gay active player in the NFL, during the draft in May.
Bisciotti also talked about the pride he has in the organization, and Swayne told players to be careful about how they conduct themselves on social media. The Ravens' first full-squad practice is July 24 at the Under Armour Performance Center.
“It's always the same high standard,” Harbaugh said after the final day of the Ravens' mandatory minicamp in June, when asked if he'll change his message to players because of the way this offseason has unfolded. “We will always have the same high standard for our guys, and it's the same message. …
“And we've emphasized what we need to with our guys. We have good, really good guys. Football matters to them. The more it matters to you, the less inclined you are to do anything to jeopardize that.”
In Smith's case, officers went to the Greene Turtle on York Road on Saturday night after the general manager reported that there was an unconscious woman in a bathroom.
When they arrived, police said, they saw Smith in the women's restroom with an intoxicated woman. The NFL player was assisting the woman when she vomited while leaning over a sink, according to the police report.
Smith told police that he and the woman had done a photo shoot together earlier in the evening. Officers later found what they suspected was a small bag of cocaine in the woman's purse, according to the police report.
She has not been charged and the “white powdery substance” has been sent to the police lab for analysis, according to the police.
Police said after medics arrived, officers repeatedly asked Smith to step aside; he refused to comply and said several times that he was helping the woman. Police said Smith became argumentative when they asked him to step into the hallway.
According to the police report, Smith was told that because he wasn't related to the woman and wasn't helping her, he needed to leave so that medical personnel could attend to her, and Smith replied: “I am helping her.”
Police said Smith was asked three times by an officer to leave the restroom before being ushered out to the hallway. Smith allegedly cursed at the arresting officer and asked him, “What the [expletive] are you gonna do?” When told again to leave, Smith replied: “[Expletive] you. What the [expletive] are you gonna do?”
Police said Smith was then placed in handcuffs.
While at the Towson precinct, according to the police report, Smith told the officer: “The only reason you arrested me is so you could get on the news.”
According to the police report, the officer informed Smith that he wasn't aware of who he was and that wouldn't have made a difference in the outcome of the incident.
Smith then said, according to the report, “You will see this [Sunday] on ESPN.”
After the arrest, Baltimore County police said Smith was cooperative with officers at the precinct. Smith was released from custody from the Towson police precinct about 11:15 p.m. after being issued a citation; a court date is pending. The woman was transported to a local hospital,police said.
A 2011 first-round draft pick from Colorado, Smith hadn't previously been in trouble with the law since joining the Ravens. When Smith entered the NFL, he faced scrutiny about his character because of a history of off-the-field problems. He was cited for third-degree assault and two underage drinking violations in college.
Smith is regarded as one of the top young defensive players on the roster, and the Ravens have said they eventually want to sign him to a long-term contract extension.
The Ravens exercised a fifth-year option for 2015 for Smith this offseason, so he's due a $6.898 million base salary that year. The salary becomes fully guaranteed if he's on the roster the first day of the 2015 league year.
Smith and his agent, Drew Rosenhaus, haven't commented on his arrest.
“I have discovered in terms of public relations that Americans will forgive almost anything if people are truly contrite,” Brickell said. “One mistake shouldn't unravel everything someone has built in their life.”
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