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Now that the Vikings have made it official, naming Mike Tice to be their new head coach, it's time to start a rumor. It's wishful thinking, I admit, but that's how most rumors start. And it's fun, too.

Anyway, here goes: Is Robert Smith thinking of coming back?

No, I've heard no indications the Vikings' all-time leading rusher is interested in resuming his NFL career, but I'm convinced that one reason he walked away from the game was the atmosphere in a Vikings' locker room that, according to more than one report, was positively poisonous by the end of the 2000 season. Smith, a classy, intellectual guy, probably had had enough of John Randle and Randy Moss, and needed a break.

Well, he's had one, and now, with healthy knees and rested legs, might he consider an encore, espcially for a new coach who, in all likelihood, will control off-field behavior more than Dennis Green did?

It isn't like no one's ever come back. No, I'm not talking about Michael Jordan. I'm thinking of another Vikings' legend: Bud Grant.

I, for one, would love to see No. 26 back on the field.

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Eric Atherton

The Post-Bulletin

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