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Chuck Smith suspended by Falcons

December 18, 1996

SUWANEE, Ga. (AP) _ Chuck Smith was suspended by Atlanta coach June Jones after the defensive end, who leads the Falcons in sacks, complained about the team’s lack of leadership.

``I’ve asked guys to come talk to me. You’d think you’d have enough loyalty to do that,″ Jones said Tuesday.

Smith was suspended for ``conduct detrimental to the team″ one day after defiantly calling for change on the team, especially at the top.

``We’ve got to come here and focus on defense,″ he said. ``We need a head man that’s going to be a defensive-minded man. Right now that’s not the case. Until that happens, we’ll be a scrub defense. You’ve got to have defense that’s the focus point of everything. That’s the bottom line.″

Smith then added a dig about the Falcons’ run-and-shoot offense.

``You can run and shoot your way to the stars, but if we don’t stop nobody, we’re going to lose,″ he said.

``I’ve never heard anything quite like what he said before, so he’s suspended,″ Jones said.

Conduct detrimental to the team was the same offense that was used against former starting quarterback Jeff George after a Sept. 22 sideline tirade that led to a four-game suspension and George’s eventual waiver from the team. George appealed the suspension and won.

Smith’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, said: ``You have to wonder what the heck is going on with that team. This one is just mystifying. Obviously, we’ll pursue this through channels and take whatever recourse is available to us.″

The suspension covers Sunday’s season finale at Jacksonville, and Jones considered extending it to the first three games of the 1997 season, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported today. The newspaper said the suspension could cost Smith $70,588 for Sunday’s game.

Smith, the starting right defensive end, was part of a Falcons (3-12) defense that has yielded the most points in the league, an average of 29.5 a game.

Smith, at the end of the first year of a four-year, $10.6 million contract, said after Sunday’s 34-27 loss to St. Louis that he might have played his last game for the Falcons.

``Everyone is sitting back and not saying nothing, like it’s all hunky-dory,″ Smith said. ``I’m not going to say that. The bottom line is we haven’t got the job done, and it’s not one cornerback, not one safety. It’s the whole big picture. It starts from the top and trickles on down, and whatever needs to happen needs to happen.″

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