Geno Smith still is ticked off.
Smith’s season took a turn for the worse last month when then-New York Jets teammate IK Enemkpali punched him in the face, sidelining the quarterback for six to 10 weeks. The locker room incident isn’t sitting well with Smith as he watches from the sideline, but he’s doing his best to chill out.
“I’m extremely (angry),” Smith told Newsday on Wednesday. “But I have to keep my temper down. I can’t exhibit that in the locker room, I can’t exhibit that on a daily basis. I just feel for my family more because they enjoy seeing me out there.”
Enemkpali immediately was released by the Jets following his fateful punch, which broke Smith’s jaw and ultimately led to Ryan Fitzpatrick taking over New York’s quarterback duties. But that’s little consolation for Smith, a second-round pick who once figured to be the Jets’ signal caller for the foreseeable future. Smith feels like a chunk of his third season was unfairly ripped from him.
“If I was playing bad and got benched, that’s on me. But for something like that to happen, it’s like … ” Smith said. “What can you do? You’ve just got to, kind of, weather the storm and move on from there.”
Enemkpali’s much-publicized “sucker punch” reportedly was over a $600 airplane ticket Smith failed to reimburse the linebacker for, though sources told ESPN’s Adam Schefter last month Smith planned to pay back the money. Whatever the case, an important season for Smith has been derailed. And it’s difficult for him to stay positive, though he’s certainly trying.
According to Smith, Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall has been a positive influence, and head coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey continue to put things into perspective.
“You know what? I’m on the team. The guys look at me as a leader,” Smith told Newsday. “Whether it’s my team or not, it’s (owner Woody Johnson’s) team. It’s coach Bowles’ team. And it’s a trickle-down effect.”
“You want to say, OK, it’s (Fitzpatricks’s) team? But that’s kind of pinning me and him against each other. We’re all in this thing together. It’s a collective bond, and it was that way when I was projected the starter and when I got hurt it was that way. And right now it’s the same way.”
Enemkpali’s punch must have been hard. But Smith’s struggle to stay on an even keel is even harder.
Thumbnail photo via Andrew Mills/NJ Advance Media for NJ.com via USA TODAY Sports
Thumbnail photo via New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith