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SMITH FINDS OUT THE HARD WAY: YOU SNOOZE, YOU LOSE

Mr. Bruce Smith
C/O Virginia Beach Police Department
One Police Plaza.
Dear resident 0000037:

Hey Big Guy, sorry about the little prison humor there. I'm assuming you made bail, but in the event you're not still residing in the little room with the gated entryway, I thought the kind souls at the VBPD would at least forward this letter.

Heck, had you been in training camp, I would have brought it to you myself.

I know you're getting some flak about being charged with driving under the influence of something and refusing to take a Breathalyzer test, but that's only from people who think the government has a right to just bust in on a guy who's sleeping soundly in a luxury car in the middle of a highway at 6 a.m. Those people don't seem to respect the fact that professional athletes generally sleep anywhere they want. Some -- at least the ones who don't live in Dallas -- don't even understand the concept of athlete as being above the law.

I say let he who has not driven his 1996 Mercedes into the middle of a highway and then gone to sleep at the wheel at sunrise cast the first stone.

I mean what's wrong with those people down there, Bruce? Don't they know how comfortable that car can be? Seems to me they're being just a little bit unreasonable. Heck, I've been to Virginia Beach. A man can get sleepy just waiting for the nightclubs to close.

What's with the police there, Bruce? Don't they know about letting sleeping dogs lie? Heck, you might have just had a bad reaction to a flu shot or something.

Still, I've got to be honest with you, Bruce, there are a few people up here who feel you've gotten a little too big for your helmet this time around.

Now don't misunderstand, I was the first to believe that previous substance-abuse suspension was just an accident of youth.

And don't forget, Bruce, I was at the front of the line of defenders who stated that it was all Darryl Talley's fault when the car you and Talley were riding in was pulled over in Buffalo a few years back.

I must admit I cringed a little bit when you told the world at the Super Bowl that Buffalo was a racist town and that a guy like you could never get a fair shake here, but that's all in the past, my friend. Besides, the Bills say you're a good family man now. Heck, for all we know you were just resting up before taking the family out to sunrise services.

Still, I've got to tell you, Bruce, there are people here who don't see it that way. They think that you've shown a pattern of foolish behavior over the years and that if these charges are true, this just tops it.

We of the true believers know better, but they don't believe that you're in trouble now because of those insensitive louts who manage the books at One Lease Hostage Drive didn't make you the highest-paid player on the defensive side of the ball.

They don't even believe that had the Bills paid you what you wanted when you wanted it you would have had a new Mercedes and it would have been pointed straight toward Fredonia. Maybe it wouldn't have arrived in time for the opening of training camp, but you at least would have been here in time to be standing on the sidelines for the first exhibition game in Denver. That's about as far away as you can get from a courtroom docket.

Anyway, these people are starting to make some noise, Bruce. They're saying that maybe, just maybe, we can get along with someone who's not the best but actually can stay out of trouble AND make tackles in the Super Bowl.

Not me Bruce, I'm with you, win or cry, but maybe you want to get up here and remind us of how much we really need you.

It's better than seeing you snoring on "True Stories From the Highway Patrol."

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