Being a member of the media in New York or New Jersey, you see a lot of things. You expect the unexpected.
But no one could have predicted what happened Tuesday.
“It was one of those situations that you read about but you never actually think it’s going to happen,” Metro New York Jets reporter Kristian Dyer said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “A few minutes before practice, Jets head coach Todd Bowles comes down to the media room, says he wants to speak to us. People kind of joked around and said, ‘Oh, this can’t be that important.’ It just seemed so informal and off-the-cuff. He said, ‘No, you’re going to want to record this.’ Little did we know, he was right.”
As Bowles explained, Jets quarterback Geno Smith will need surgery to repair a broken jaw that he sustained in an altercation with former reserve linebacker IK Enemkpali. Smith is expected to miss six to 10 weeks.
“It kind of reshapes the narrative about this entire Jets season with one punch to the head,” Dyer said. “It’s just kind of one of those sort of surreal things. We thought it was going to be a sleepy day at training camp. It was anything but.”
Smith posted a photo to his Instagram account saying, “I’ll be back.”
“Outside of that, no one has seen from Geno; no one has heard from Geno,” Dyer said. “We’ve heard from IK through his agent. A statement was released in which he apologized to the team, apologized to the Jets and at the same time shifted some of the blame to Geno Smith over this entire situation.”
According to reports, Enemkpali was seeking reimbursement for a $600 plane ticket he bought for Smith to attend a charity event last month. Smith, however, did not attend.
“Apparently the former Jets linebacker was upset enough to do some dental work to his quarterback,” Dyer said, unsurprised. “IK certainly does have a checkered past, including assaulting a police officer during his time in college (at Louisiana Tech). The Jets were aware of the red flags surrounding this guy. They certainly knew it. They did their homework. So did a lot of NFL teams. He was a very talented player in college, and he was someone who, in all likelihood, was going to make the Jets’ two-deep and perhaps down the road challenge for a starting spot. He looked very good in training camp. He was active. He’s very good at getting to the quarterback. He’s got a tremendous motor, and he’s one of the guys that people were talking about.
“But off the field, he seemed like he was quiet, subdued,” Dyer continued. “You never really saw him as being someone who had anger issues necessarily – although he didn’t always seem like the friendliest of guys. I spoke to him on one or two occasions and he always seemed to be a little put off by speaking to the media. But that’s nothing new in locker rooms. There’s always a couple players that don’t enjoy those moments with the press. (But) you never saw any sort of bad blood or animosity building between these two players. During training camp, we’re not allowed in the locker room. Player interviews are done on the field. So there was no interaction that would have indicated that IK and Geno had anything brewing of this nature.”
Dyer believes there’s a lot of blame to go around for this incident but that Bowles deserves very little of it, if any.
“It’s easy perhaps to say that Todd Bowles has very little institutional control over this locker room,” Dyer said. “But I’m going to tell you: I think it’s sort of an indictment on Rex Ryan’s locker room. For young players to be behaving this way means that they grew up in a culture where this was allowed. So this is more of an indictment if you ask me on the type of locker room and personalities that Rex Ryan brought in than anything Todd Bowles has done. And to a man, you will hear the Jets players say on or off the record how much they enjoy Todd Bowles being a former coach, bringing accountability and what he’s brought to this team.”