"First Fag President" <firstname.lastname@example.org>: Aug 30 11:39PM +0200
The only good news out of the Jets locker room, if there is any good news when a scrub throws a punch that breaks the jaw of the starting quarterback, is this: At least the pro football players are punching out each other now, and not their girlfriends.
But because this is the Jets, and because bad things seem to happen to them no matter who is in charge, all the way back to Joe Namath's knees, this did feel like an awful lot of history behind the punch that IK Enemkpali threw at Geno Smith, the shot heard 'round the world in pro football on Tuesday. The only thing that would have made it better is if Rex Ryan were still the coach, because then everybody would have covered this like a prison break.
Here is how the new Jets head coach, Todd Bowles, described what happened between Enemkpali and Smith:
"Something very childish that sixth-graders could have talked about and it had no reason to happen."
It did happen, though, and it happened with a couple of Bowles' players, neither one of them a pro football star and one of them, the slugger Enemkpali, off the team and perhaps out of the National Football League not long after he connected on Smith with what Bowles described as a "sucker punch." Never has the expression seemed more appropriate.
You figured right away that the beef was about a woman or money. It is reportedly about money. Enemkpali organized a charity event in Texas. He invited Smith, who didn't attend. So it could turn out that Enemkpali, who played only 40 snaps for the Jets last season, threw his career away over $600 for plane tickets and limo fees that Smith wouldn't pay back. And who knows what happens to Smith if his replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick, does enough to prop up a fine, talented Jets defense in Smith's absence. Maybe Smith is out of a job, too.
So this turns out to be a season dominated by slow thinkers for the Jets before the first preseason game is even played. Sheldon Richardson, who was supposed to be a part of that fine defense, gets himself suspended for four games after being found in violation of the league's drug policy, reportedly for smoking marijuana.
Then Richardson gets picked up in Missouri for driving a car 143 miles an hour, with an automatic weapon in that car and, oh by the way, a 12-year-old child and the smell of more weed in the car.
Now this happens in the locker room. Enemkpali, out of Louisiana Tech, where he once had pepper spray and a stun gun used on him because of a bar fight with an off-duty cop, somehow manages to hit his own quarterback harder than he hit anybody on the other team for the Jets last season.
When news about all that made its way out of the locker room and out into the world, before anybody even knew the details of why it happened, this really did feel like a lot of punches Jets fans have taken over recent years; felt like that famous Butt Fumble from Mark Sanchez against the Patriots and Sanchez losing a season because of a hit he took in the fourth quarter of a preseason game playing behind second- and third-stringers; and theTebow circus coming to town; and Brett Favre's sexting; and all the various slapstick with Rex. Rex was the one who was supposed to be coaching the "Sons of Anarchy."
"First Fag President" <email@example.com>: Aug 30 11:33PM +0200
Geno Smith might not be an innocent victim after all.
Although Todd Bowles made it clear that he doesn't think his starting quarterback should have been punched by teammate IK Enemkpali, 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.
It's unknown how many people witnessed the altercation between Smith and Enemkpali, which began with a dispute over $600, but it's clear not everyone subscribes to Bowles' belief that the punch that broke Smith's jaw was unwarranted. The quarterback is expected to miss 6 to 10 weeks with the injury.
It's unclear how matters escalated, but Smith's finger-pointing in his teammate's face was grounds for a punch, according to some.
"That'll get a man hit every time, especially one that hasn't earned respect," a source said.
"First Fag President" <firstname.lastname@example.org>: Aug 30 11:12PM +0200
It's the victim's fault, apparently.
That's the analysis sports fans were treated to by ESPN's Cris Carter, who blamed Jets quarterback Geno Smith for getting himself punched in the face because he's not a good enough leader.
Carter, the Hall of Fame wide receiver, did so despite saying he didn't know the facts of the incident, and despite Jets head coach Todd Bowles saying Smith was "cold cocked, sucker punched."
"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 after Bowles revealed Smith would miss six-to-10 weeks with a broken jaw.
"Because man, you're like the president, CEO of the team. We can't have you fighting."
"First Fag President" <email@example.com>: Aug 30 10:51PM +0200
Geno Smith didn't know it at the time, but his future with the Jets hung in the balance on that Tuesday afternoon seven months ago.
It was just before 4 o'clock on Jan. 13, a watershed moment for a franchise looking for new leadership.
An exhaustive two-week head coaching search had reached a sensitive stage. The organization's next decision would be its most critical in years. The wrong choice might prove costly.
Todd Bowles was wrapping up his second interview at the Jets facility. The Cardinals defensive coordinator was solid and steady, but Woody Johnson was still intrigued by Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, who had emerged as the most coveted candidate in the league.
Johnson & Co. left their first interview with Quinn in Seattle 12 days earlier enamored with the synergy of the defending Super Bowl champs' entire operation. The Jets wanted to replicate the dynamic between the coaching staff and front office. The vibe was just right.
Quinn was extremely impressive in the meeting.
The NFL's restrictive/ridiculous interview rules had prevented Johnson and consultants Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf from talking to Quinn again until the Seahawks were eliminated from the playoffs or the bye week before the Super Bowl, whichever came first.
Johnson was prepared to take his private jet back to the Pacific Northwest on Saturday night, Jan. 10, if the Seahawks had lost to the Panthers in the divisional playoffs to close the deal and hire Quinn.
The Seahawks won, setting in motion a chain of events that brought the Jets to this moment on Jan. 13.
The Jets had heard rumblings that they were Quinn's top choice. After all, he was a Jersey guy. Coming home made perfect sense, but Jets brass needed iron-clad assurance that Quinn wasn't wavering in his belief in the Jets. Anything short of that was playing with fire.
They wanted to be absolutely sure that Quinn wanted them as much as they wanted him, but time was running short. Bowles was going to board a plane the next morning for a second interview in Atlanta.
Could the Jets take the chance of letting such an impressive candidate walk out the door?
What if Quinn, who had interviewed with five teams and been mentioned for a late opening in Denver, didn't have the Jets atop of his wish list?
The smokescreens and shell games during coaching-search processes had turned plenty of teams into fools in the past.
What if the Jets didn't land Quinn or Bowles?
The organization needed to make a swift and smart move. Just before 4 p.m., decision makers started to reach out to people who might be able to provide clarity. The next two hours were critical.
They needed to know: Was Quinn in or out?
The Jets weren't given any guarantees. Yes, Quinn liked the Jets, but the Falcons and others were intriguing, too. That wasn't good enough for the Jets, who agreed to a deal with Bowles just after 7 o'clock. The Jets might have been smitten with Quinn, but Bowles was hardly a consolation prize.
Atlanta's patience, meanwhile, paid off. Quinn, whose Falcons will face the Jets on Friday , was hired the day after the Super Bowl.
The Jets' decision to hire Bowles had a ripple effect that gave Smith new life.
Quinn's plan had he been hired by the Jets included adding offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who resigned as the Browns' play caller one week after Quinn met with Johnson. Shanahan's vision didn't include Smith, according to people familiar with the coordinator's thinking.
Sources told the Daily News that the former Washington play- caller wanted to trade for former pupil Kirk Cousins, who showed promise in two years under Shanahan. Cousins, stuck behind Robert Griffin III on the depth chart, was Shanahan's primary target to run his offense in New York.
The Jets' concurrent head coaching and general manager searches made for an interesting dynamic. Quinn told friends that he wanted to bring former Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik aboard in some capacity.
Although Casserly contacted Dominik, the Jets never formally interviewed him for a front-office role. Shanahan believed that Dominik, who worked for five years in Tampa with Washington president Bruce Allen, could facilitate a deal for Cousins, according to sources.
Shanahan had an affinity for the Washington signal-caller despite his 2-7 record as a starter (with four 100-plus passer rating games) in his three seasons.
Instead, Bowles' arrival gave Smith a chance at redemption before his jaw was broken in a locker-room altercation last week. Smith would have been marginalized from the get-go under Quinn if/when the Jets traded for Cousins.
"He'd be a middle-of-the-road starter right now," one NFC scout said of Cousins. "He has all the intangibles to ascend, but needs to make better decisions with the ball."
Cousins might have been the answer for a franchise that has been desperately searching for a quarterback for five decades. Or he might have made no difference at all.
"First Fag President" <firstname.lastname@example.org>: Aug 30 09:12PM +0200
PITTSFORD, N.Y. — Without mentioning Jets quarterback Geno Smith — the player he sucker punched — by name, linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali said he's sorry, and never meant to hurt anyone.
As for joining his new team, the Buffalo Bills, on Thursday, Enemkpali said he's grateful for a second chance a day after being claimed off waivers.
In making his first public comments two days after punching and breaking Smith's jaw during an altercation in the Jets' locker room, Enemkpali referred only to something that "happened," spoke for just 45 seconds and declined to take any questions.
"I want to apologize to the Jets organization, the fans, my teammates and the coaches. I apologize for what happened," Enemkpali said, speaking at a podium placed beneath a goalpost on one of the fields of the Bills' training camp facility in suburban Rochester.
"It should've never happened. I should've walked away from the situation," he said. "It was never my intention to hurt anybody."
The Jets released Enemkpali shortly after the altercation. Smith, who had surgery on Thursday, is projected to miss between six and 10 weeks.
Turning his attention to the Bills, Enemkpali thanked coach Rex Ryan and the entire organization. "I look forward to being a good teammate, an accountable player," he said. "And I'm just happy to be here, and thankful."
He then said, "Thank you," before being escorted away by two Bills officials.
The second-year player arrived at camp earlier in the day and passed his physical. Though Enemkpali has not yet practiced with the Bills, Ryan is still considering making him active for Buffalo's preseason opener against Carolina on Friday night.
Ryan pushed for the team to place a claim on Enemkpali, and received approval from general manager Doug Whaley and first- year Bills owner Terry Pegula. As the Jets former coach, Ryan became familiar with Enemkpali during the player's rookie season last year.
"First Fag President" <email@example.com>: Aug 30 08:57PM +0200
In 12 seasons in the NFL including three with the Jets, Damien Woody says he never saw anything like what transpired in Gang Green's locker room on Tuesday. Arguments? Sure. Situations where parties in conflict had to be told to cool it? Absolutely. But violence in the locker room?
"Never. That's crazy," Woody said. "It makes you wonder about how something like that could ever happen."
Woody would never absolve IK Enemkpali of responsibility for what happened – he did throw the punch that broke Smith's jaw, sidelining him for 6-10 weeks, over a matter of $600 – but he wonders what in the Jets locker room culture would make a player feel that was an option.
"I would hope that there wasn't anyone around when this was happening because if there was, that speaks poorly on Geno in the locker room," said Woody, who was at Citi Field Thursday telling the story of his climb from a desolate childhood to become an NFL player and now a broadcaster to area youngsters in the Citi Kids program.
"Could you ever see something like that happening to Tom Brady or Peyton Manning or Aaron Rodgers or Andrew Luck or Russell Wilson?" Woody asked. "You would never see that happen. It makes you wonder if there is a lack of respect for Geno to the point that someone would break his jaw over $600."