Harrison Smith calls actions that led to his ejection 'stupid'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Safety Harrison Smith took full responsibility for his actions after being ejected in the second quarter of the Minnesota Vikings' 30-7 victory over the Tennessee Titans on Sunday at the Metrodome.
Smith received a 15-yard penalty and was ejected for grabbing back judge Steve Freeman and pushing him to the side after cornerback Antoine Winfield picked off a Matt Hasselbeck pass.
The incident came after the play had ended and as Freeman was leading Smith away after the rookie had gotten into a shoving match with Titans wide receiver Nate Washington.
"It wasn't even a play so it was just stupid for me to be involved," said Smith, a first-round pick of the Vikings last April out of Notre Dame. "I just got kind of caught up in the heat of the moment and at the end of the day you can never touch the officials. They have a hard enough job as it is and to make it harder on them is just stupid and is something I don't ever want to do from this point on."
Smith is likely to receive a big fine from the NFL and could face further discipline depending on what league executives think when they review the play.
"To be honest, I'm going to take whatever they give me," Smith said. "The officials already have a hard job. I should never have been there. I just want to play next week and just help the Vikings win."
Referee Jeff Triplette said Freeman was trying to separate Smith "from the huddle," adding, "(Smith) can't be shoving him aside." Triplette said he had no issue with the fact that Freeman put his hands on Smith to lead him away.
Said Vikings coach Leslie Frazier: "From everything I've been told, it was a justifiable ejection. You can't touch the officials, it's just not smart on our part doing that. We have to learn from that and it's just not smart, not smart football."
Smith said he apologized to Freeman, as well as his teammates for his actions. He did talk to coach Leslie Frazier about what happened and was told to learn from the incident.
"I (was) kind of caught up in the heat of the moment and was kind of jawing back and forth with some of the Titans players," Smith said. "I shouldn't have even been doing that. Just go to the sideline, celebrate the play with Antoine. I just kind of got caught up in it and accidently put my hands on him. I realized afterwards that right when I touched him, that's an official, and that's just stupid."
With safety Mistral Raymond out because of an ankle injury, the Vikings had to replace Smith with rookie Robert Blanton. Blanton, who was a teammate of Smith's at Notre Dame, was a fifth-round pick of the Vikings last April. He played the last two-plus quarters alongside Jamarca Sanford.
Blanton was credited with five tackles, tying him for the Vikings' third-highest tackle total Sunday with Jasper Brinkley.
"I can't say enough," about Blanton's play, Smith said. "Blanton stepped up and played a great game, the defense played great, the offense, special teams. Everybody played great. At the end of the day, I'm just happy we got a win."