The New York Jets have made headlines before playing a single snap in 2015 (something that never happens for the right reasons). Earlier in the week, an argument in the locker room led to franchise Quarterback Geno Smith getting punched square in the jaw by teammate IK Enemkpali (a linebacker). Apparently the squabble started because Smith owed Enemkpali $600. Smith was required to have emergency surgery on his jaw and is expected to miss the next 6-10 weeks (that time of course bleeding into the first month or two of the regular season).
Obviously, the Jets released Enemkpali right away. He clearly had attitude problems before punching his teammate in the face, starting with an arrest in 2011 while he was attending Louisiana Tech, three years before being drafted by the Jets. What was he arrested for? Oh just disturbing the peace and assaulting a police officer…
To add insult to injury, and to tie a nice little bow on this already incredulous, TMZ-level story, Enemkpali was signed THE VERY NEXT DAY by the Buffalo Bills. The Bills being a division (and in-state) rival of the Jets would be dramatic enough, but the fact that the Bills are now coached by former Jets coach Rex Ryan just takes this story to the next level. Ryan coached the Jets for years (2009-2014, to be exact), and was embroiled in all kinds of over-the-top “headlines”. Nothing serious or legally dicey, but the kind of shit that is basically pheromones for paparazzo. It started simple enough: getting a tattoo of his wife in a Mark Sanchez jersey (Sanchez being the former starting quarterback for the Jets, and was given preferential treatment by Ryan, despite being a less than stellar player). He and his wife also had a foot fetish video leak onto the internet and he made a career out of making boneheaded statements in press conferences (A personal favorite: he proclaimed in 2009 that the Jets were out of the playoffs after a tough loss in Week 15, despite being mathematically still in the race, and they ended up in the AFC Championship game that year).
I’ll say one thing to the credit of Rex Ryan: if you are going to suffer through losing season after losing season, at least having an entertaining coach is a small bit of relief.
As for why Ryan would want Enemkpali: Is it just out of spite? Did he like what he saw out of Enemkpali in his rookie season last year? Is he just a crazy person with enough football acumen to fake his way through job interviews? It’s probably a combination of all three.
All this comes after story broke last month of long-time New York Jet Sheldon Richardson getting pulled over for going 143 MPH with a fully-loaded handgun and a 12-year-old in the car. Oh, and then resisting arrest.
As the NFL regular season nears, the New York Jets hope to put all of these messes behind them. As it were a month ago, the Jets were going to have a hard time competing with the rest of the AFC East (expect for maybe the rebuilding Bills), but at least there was hope of a decent season. Now, they face a splintered locker room, each taking sides on the Smith/Enemkpali feud. This lead to some members of the Jets locker room claiming (and I’m paraphrasing) that Smith is a Primadonna who got what was coming to him.
Maybe there will be a silver lining in all of this for the Jets: Geno Smith hadn’t exactly blown anyone away with his play in his first two seasons with the Jets (where the Jets went 11-18 in games started by Smith), and backup quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick has shown flashes of greatness in the past. It might be time to place an order for a custom “Fitzmagic” Jets jersey.
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)