If the reports are true, then $600 will cost Geno Smith 6-10 weeks. The New York Jets quarterback suffered a broken jaw during a locker-room altercation with IK Enemkpali, a backup linebacker, on Tuesday.
Smith reportedly accepted a $600 plane ticket from Enemkpali to appear at his football camp in Pflugerville, Texas, in July. Smith, however, did not attend, and Enemkpali demanded to be reimbursed. Smith said he would pay Enemkpali but had not as of Tuesday morning. That led to a confrontation.
A confrontation that could cost Smith more than half the season.
“Well, incredibly unfortunate is what my initial thoughts are,” Panthers analyst Jordan Gross said on CBS Sports Radio’s The Doug Gottlieb Show. “Being on the outside looking in, not knowing the whole story – the real story – it’s tough with guys. Being a football player, you’re built on power and aggression and being violent with your hands and your technique. I think sometimes guys have a hard time turning that off, especially when you’re in the locker room when you’re in training camp and there’s so much testosterone everywhere. But you have to know when you’re on the field and when you’re not. Anybody that’s played has lost their cool at some point on the field, but to do that off the field, that’s a tough thing to do.”
If NFL quarterbacks don’t get touched in practice, Doug Gottlieb has no idea how or why they would get touched in the locker room. Why didn’t someone – such as an offensive lineman – intervene before the situation got out of hand?
“Well, you would hope somebody would – and it doesn’t matter, in my opinion, if it’s a quarterback or not,” Gross said. “You can’t afford to lose anybody, especially for something stupid inside the locker room. Hindsight being 20/20, you would want somebody to step in and break up a fight amongst everybody. Definitely a quarterback is the one guy you don’t want to lose. You get an injury on the field, it’s devastating. But to have something happen that could have been totally avoided, it’s just devastating to the team. So it’s going to be tough for them to bounce back from this. That’s just a huge hit to that team.”
And a huge hit for Enemkpali, who was promptly released following the altercation. Whether that was right or wrong is up for debate, but between Smith and Cam Newton, it’s been a violent week for NFL quarterbacks. The main difference between these incidents, of course, is that Newton did not get hurt.
Then again, Newton is much bigger than Josh Norman. In fact, he has about five inches and 50 pounds on the 27-year-old cornerback.
“Well, first of all, Cam Newton’s bigger than everybody. That’s going to be always the case,” said Gross, who spent his entire 11-year career with the Panthers. “But I think it’s a completely different situation (than the one involving Smith). I think that it’s really been blown bigger than it is because Cam’s a quarterback. I think if they had it to do all over again, they probably wouldn’t have escalated that situation any further. But every training camp – every practice almost – has fights in it. It’s just unusual to see a quarterback in the middle of it.”
Newton and Norman had apparently been jawing at each other at practice. Then Norman picked off Newton and stiff-armed him on his way to the end zone.
Newton took exception to that.
Then things escalated.
“That doesn’t surprise me with Cam,” Gross said. “He’s a big-time competitor. I don’t think he views himself as a fragile quarterback. A lot was made out of all his offseason activities – putting himself in that big, inflatable ball, running into people; doing rugby in Australia. I don’t think Cam thinks about himself getting hurt, and he doesn’t think he needs to run away from anything. But (these were) completely different situations in my view.”