After two seasons of flinging and flopping, Jets prized QB Geno Smith finally caught a break. Unfortunately it was at his jawbone's expense.
Smith’s optimistic preseason and Todd Bowles’ first as newly appointed Jets HC, in the words of the great Heavy D (RIP), “started with a POW…and ended with a bang.”
When (Ex-Jets) linebacker IK Enemkpali punched Smith in the face, it resulted in a broken jaw for the Jets starting QB and Enemkpali’s release.
Before the details of the altercation were totally revealed, analyst Cris Carter unsympathetically said it was Geno’s fault he got rocked because “he lacks leadership abilities."
"Now I don't know what happened, but for me, it's a lack of leadership on Geno Smith's part that he would put himself in harm's way to get sucker punched," Carter said on SportsCenter Tuesday …”Because man, you're like the president, CEO of the team. We can't have you fighting."
Ex-NFL safety Ryan Clark said Geno was too “smug” about a $600 debt he owed Enemkpali. Enemkpali was reportedly mad because Smith hadn't yet made good on his promise to pay him back the cost of a flight Enemkpali bought. The flight was for Smith to attend Enemkpali's charity event in Texas, but Smith had to back out because someone close to him died.
Wednesday morning on ESPN, Clark said he trains with Enemkpali and offered his personal account of what sparked the chin-checker in the Jets locker room.
"It became about the fact that Geno wasn't necessarily apologetic, and being in a way remorseful about the money, when saying he was going to pay IK back. You know, he didn't, and he was rather smug about it. So these guys got into it earlier in camp about this money. My report says Geno put his finger in [Enemkpali's] face and told the guy, 'Well, you're not going to do anything about it.'
"This wasn't the first time they had an issue over this same situation, and nothing came from it the first time. You know, the first time they got into an argument, you know, words were said, disrespect thrown both ways, both guys separate and walk away. So when you have that situation happen one time, I'm sure a lot of people weren't expecting it to get where it's gone."
Tough Crowd. On some Brand Nubian, militant, the-NFL-is-the-hood sh*t.
Few are running to Geno’s defense because most Jets fans just see it as another butt-fumble in the continued front office follies and abominable play by a series of Jets QBs and top draft picks.
Nothing seems to go right for Geno no matter how bad he wants it to or believes it will happen. Rex Ryan believed in Mark Sanchez and then Smith so much, he lost his job behind it.
After a 2014 season in which Geno threw 13 TDS and 13 picks and had a 77.5 QB rating, the Jets organization had some opportunities to draft/acquire a starting QB in the offseason. Most fans were begging for a change. Instead the Jets opted to sign journeyman Ryan Fitzpatrick as an unspectacular emergency backup plan (in essence conceding the job to Smith).
Last season, it seemed like Jets wide receivers didn’t even want to catch the balls Geno threw right into their palms. Did anybody even help Geno up after IK dropped him? If Geno didn’t hit the deck (he is a QB and used to cruel and unusual assaults from linebackers) then I know he was stunned for a sec and stumbled a couple lockers over.
It seems that Geno's saving grace at this point is the fact that he's still young and as a draft pick with high expectations placed upon him, he represents an investment and is a manifestation of the Jets organization from its scouting department on up.
Nobody is really feeling son because It seems like he’s got The Game twisted in his own mind. The bottom line is, he’s the face of the club and every time he puts on the clown’s makeup, the credibility of the Jets becomes food for comical fodder as well.
At least Bowles described the altercation as Geno being “cold, cocked, sucker punched.” But he also agrees that Smith, who is now out for six to 10 weeks with no guarantees of starting when he returns, should take some blame too.
According to nj.com: Bowles called the Tuesday morning situation/altercation "childish" and "stupid," but added, "I didn't say [Smith] was innocent. It was tit for tat, he said/she said, high school stuff that they could have handled better than they handled it…Because it takes two to tango… One to throw a punch, but two to tango."
Nobody is really feeling sorry for Geno right now. According to nydailynews.com, although Todd Bowles made it clear that he doesn’t think his starting quarterback should have been slugged eyewitness accounts disagree.
Smith “was up in (Enemkpali’s) face and pointed/touched his face,” according to a source.
“Geno deserved it,” another source said.
Maybe Geno deserves a bit of sympathy because he didn’t have a chance to actually engage and defend himself. Let’s be honest; there’s not a starting NFL QB in the world who thinks he’s going to get punched in the grill in the middle of the locker room by a linebacker with six games under his belt and a future full of uncertainty. So as far as knocking Geno for talking junk and getting punked, I will give him a pass on that.
On the flip side, this is the NFL. The walls are dripping with machismo and dudes walk around with gasoline draws on lighting matches. That’s just how it is. You have to know that and handle yourself accordingly.
Maybe that’s where Geno went wrong in the first place. There are those who feel like Geno violated certain “codes” and elevated the situation to a physical one when, according to Clark, he challenged IK’s manhood.
Where I come from, you can’t tell a guy who you owe money too, “if I don’t pay you, you ain’t gonna do nothing about it.”
Those are fighting words. Time or place doesn't matter. Could be church, the streets, the club... an NFL locker room.
When the smoke clears, both of these guys will have learned a valuable life lesson from this experience. Enemkpali will have to hope Geno doesn’t press charges, then deal with any NFL disciplinary measures, satisfy those and eventually hope for a team to want the black Bill Romanowski in their locker room assaulting franchise QBs over a half a grand.
Then again, this is the NFL and unchained animals that will smash lids, crush bones and twist spines at the drop of a dime – literally – are a welcomed commodity.
Enemkpali just hasn’t accumulated much on-field cache as a player to this point. He could get pushed to the side and faded to black if teams choose.
Smith, on the other hand, is a celebrity already. Although he’s one of those stars that really hasn't done anything yet and happens to play in a football crazed media-Mecca, and although he gets mercifully ridiculed by fans and press alike, he still enjoys the glitz, glamour and attention of New York’s rich and famous.
It’s like, Geno’s not getting an invitation but if he shows up we’ll let him in. This altercation should be a life-changing and revealing one for Smith. Not that Carter was right to jump all over his leadership skills before learning the entire story, but “The Great Ones” or those who claim they are striving to be great like Smith, don’t let these things occur.
A true leader finds a way to keep everyone focused on the prize. He should have just paid Enemkpali if it meant that much to the kid. How can teammates respect you as a leader if you are throwing picks, losing games and being a complete A-hole to the younger dudes?
It’s unfortunate that Geno (the victim in the situation) didn’t even throw a punch and is probably considered more of a locker room cancer than Enemkpali now. It seems that nothing “great” happens when he Geno is involved.
He was probably going to start again for the Jets this season. He has new weapons and a clean slate with a new brain trust. If Geno was ever going to turn the corner it was going to begin this campaign.
Now that’s a pipe dream.
For well-adjusted players, sound choices translate from the house to the streets to the locker room to the field. For cats fakin' jacks, who do too much talking and not enough producing and leading, those suspect decisions come back to bite them.
It’s self re-evaluation time for Geno Smith. He’s at a crossroads and he will have a portion of the season to hold a clip board with his mouth wired shut and work on becoming a better football guy.