What happens when locker room melees get out of control in Buffalo? Starting quarterback Geno Smith’s jaw gets broken, sidelining him for at least six weeks.
Following a locker room altercation with teammate (now former) IK Enemkpali this week, the starting quarterback for the Jets, Geno Smith, suffered a broken jaw and will be out of the mix for six to 10 weeks, per reports.
Tragically, the dispute was over $600, pretty much pocket change for most NFL quarterbacks. Per reports, Geno will miss as many as 10 weeks after suffering from two fractures in his jaw.
It all started when Geno accepted a $600 plane ticket from IK Enemkpali to appear at a football camp in in Pflugerville, Texas. But Smith ultimately never showed to the camp, namely because he was attending a friend’s funeral in Miami (a close friend was killed in a motorcycle accident that same week).
But, following his lack of attendance at the football camp, Enemkpali stuck it to Geno to pay him back the $600 that he spent on the ticket. When Enemkpali confronted Geno in the locker room this past Tuesday, things spiraled out of control, leading to Enemkpali sucker-punching Geno in the face and fracturing his jaw.
Now the Jets are going to have to figure out a way to move forwards without their starting quarterback for at least two to four weeks in the regular season (preseason starts this week).
Enemkpali, who was selected during the sixth-round in 2014, was cut by the team immediately following incident. And Jets coach Todd Bowles has left the ball in Geno’s court as to whether or not he wants to press criminal charges of assault against Enemkpali.
“It was nothing to do with football. … It was very childish,” Bowles told the press. “He got cold-cocked … sucker punched, whatever you want to call it, in the jaw. He’s got a broken jaw, a fractured jaw. The team knows it. It’s something we don’t tolerate, something we can’t stand. You don’t walk up to a man and punch him in the face. You can call him every name in the book and point in his face and do whatever you want, but when you punch a man in the face, that’s some serious stuff!”
The news from Enemkpali’s camp was somber the day after, with him releasing a statement to press that reads:
“I apologize to the Jets organization, coaches, teammates and fans,” Enemkpali said. “Geno and I let our frustration get the best of us, but I should have just walked away from the situation. I deeply regret and apologize for my actions. It was never my intention to harm anyone. I appreciate the opportunity I had with the Jets.”
To his credit, teammates said that Geno did not react to the punch and did not fight back. But multiple players did step in to break up the commotion and restrain Enemkpali.
With Geno out for a while, the Jets will look to veteran quarterback backup, Ryan Fitzpatrick, who Bowles said would be the interim starter for the team.
“My only goal is to heal quickly and get back to playing with my teammates so I can be the best QB possible for the NY Jets,” Smith said in a statement.
Geno’s stats show a career 57.5% completion percentage with 5,571 passing yards, 25 touchdowns and 34 interceptions, and a QBR of just 71.5.
By comparison, Fitzpatrick has thrown for 19,273 yards with a 60.2% completion rate and 123 touchdowns to 101 interceptions, with a QBR of 79.5.
Turns out, Fitzpatrick may actually be a step up for the Jets after all.