Ravens head coach John Harbaugh talks about the 4 game suspension of starting cornerback Jimmy Smith. (Kevin Richardson / Baltimore Sun video)
Ravens safety Eric Weddle said he’s troubled by the four-game suspension teammate Jimmy Smith faces for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, though he praised Smith for apologizing and taking responsibility for his mistakes.
NFL investigators said they found evidence that Smith threatened and inflicted emotional abuse on his ex-girlfriend.
“I’m very close to Jimmy and it’s unfortunate with what happened,” Weddle said Thursday. “It’s hard to fathom arguing with your [significant other], never touching her and that gets you a suspension like this when guys are getting DUIs or physically abusing other people, and they never get near this [penalty]. I know details of it that I can’t get into, so I just feel bad for him. And it’s hard for a guy put into that spot, where he can’t really stand up for himself and tell the truth. Because if he does, it’ll be a lot worse in the grand scheme of things.”
Weddle said the team stands by Smith, and he praised the Ravens’ thoroughness in reviewing the situation in light of the Ray Rice controversy four years ago. In a statement Tuesday, the team said it consulted with domestic violence experts and nonfootball people within the organization before deciding to continue its relationship with Smith.
“I think the organization did their due diligence. They know the facts,” Weddle said. “They know what this whole situation was about. It was never a physical confrontation. So obviously, there are some issues of he said and she said, things that he may want [to take] back. But it’s done now. Jimmy’s an up-front guy. Everybody goes back to Ray Rice and the video coming out, and they don’t want that to happen. I know for sure that was obviously on their mind. So they wouldn’t have done what they did and support him if they didn’t have all the facts. They can’t make that mistake twice.”
In addition to Weddle, cornerback Brandon Carr and coach John Harbaugh made their first public statements Thursday on Smith’s coming suspension.
“Really no reaction other than that Jimmy put out a statement and the team put out a statement, and everything was said that really can be said,” Harbaugh said. “I don’t really have anything to add to that. We’ll move forward and try to win football games. That’s our task, and that’s what we’ll be focused on doing with the guys we have. That’s what you do in football. You play with the guys you have that week, and we won’t have Jimmy Smith for the first four weeks. The other guys will step up and get the job done.”
Harbaugh said Smith will practice the next two weeks and play in both remaining preseason games before his suspension begins. Harbaugh said he did not play a major role in the decision to bring Smith back after the suspension but said he supports it.
Carr called the suspension “devastating news.”
“I understand the matter is serious with the climate in the world today and what’s going on,” Carr said. “It’s very unfortunate for Jimmy, his family and the organization of course. But hopefully we all can learn from this and become stronger.”
The Ravens have been aware of Smith’s situation for some time.
“I wouldn’t use the word relief, but the judgement has been made. A decision has been made, and you’ve got to deal with the consequences,” Carr said. “We as individuals, we as human beings, we’re not perfect. Things happen throughout our lives, and you have to deal with the consequences. Jimmy is a professional. He’s an adult, a grown man, and he understands the ramifications, the seriousness of this matter. But all we can do now is move forward and become better from the situation.”