Smith avoids suspension, fine for pushing ref

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings rookie safety Harrison Smith was hoping he wouldn’t be suspended for pushing away back judge Steve Freeman during Sunday’s win against the Tennessee Titans.

He received even better news Monday.

Smith, who was pulled away from a group of players by Freeman and then pushed the official away, was not suspended or fined for the incident, a league spokesman confirmed Monday.

Early in the second quarter following an interception by Antoine Winfield, Smith and a few players exchanged words with Washington. When Freeman intervened and pushed Smith out of the way, the Vikings’ safety batted away Freeman’s arms and was ejected from the game.

“It was just stupid for me to even be involved,” Smith said after Sunday’s game. “I just got, kind of, caught up in the heat of the moment. 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. It’s something I don’t ever want to do from this point on.”

The league noted that Smith was ejected with 11 minutes, 24 seconds remaining in the second quarter, meaning Smith essentially was forced to miss more than two-thirds of the game. Surprisingly, Smith wasn’t even fined.

League spokesman Randall Liu said, “Ray Anderson (NFL Executive Vice President of Football Operations) determined the ejection was sufficient discipline.”

Minnesota coach Leslie Frazier was pleased to hear his hard-hitting rookie safety won’t miss any more game time, but reiterated Smith has to play smarter and he hopes Smith learns from the mistake.

“We don’t, as I mentioned last night, condone his behavior whatsoever,” Frazier said. “It’s not smart football. We got to be able to handle our emotions when things get awry, and he knows that. He and I have talked about it, and going forward we’ve got to do a better job across the board when moments like that occur, being able to walk away from the situation and not cost our team a penalty or a potential dismissal from a game.”

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