Tuesday's altercation in the New York Jets locker room that led to quarterback Geno Smith suffering a broken jaw at the hands of linebacker IK Enemkpali reportedly stemmed from an argument over money.
ESPN insider Adam Schefter provided the details of the alleged incident:
At the heart of the dispute between former Jets LB IK Enemkpali and quarterback Geno Smith is $600 that Enemkpali believed Smith owed him, per league sources. Enemkpali purchased a plane ticket for Smith to attend his July 11 football camp at Pfugerville High School in Pfugerville, Texas. However, days before the camp, a person close to Smith was killed in a motorcycle accident in Miami and Smith did not attend Enemkpali's camp, per sources. After Smith did not attend, Enemkpali demanded that the Jets' quarterback refund him the $600 he allegedly used to purchase a plane ticket. Smith told Enemkpali he would reimburse him the money, but he did not. Enkempali [sic] confronted Smith today about the money and the confrontation ended in a punch and broken jaw.
Schefter supplied further clarification to the situation on Smith's end in a subsequent tweet:
Smith attempted to diffuse the situation by approaching Enemkpali at the beginning of training camp and offering to pay the $600, according to ESPN's Josina Anderson.
It became about the fact that Geno wasn’t necessarily apologetic and being in a way remorseful about the money when saying he was going to pay I.K. back. you know, he didn’t, and he was rather smug about it. so these guys got into it earlier in camp about this money.”
My report says Geno put his finger in his face and told the guy, well, you’re not going to do anything about it.”
“This wasn’t the first time they had an issue over this same situation and nothing came from it the first time. you know, the first time they got into an argument, you know, words were said, disrespect thrown both ways, both guys separate and walk away. so when you have that situation happen one time, i’m sure a lot of people weren’t expecting it to get where it’s gone.”
NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport added more background to the story:
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported several Jets players' thoughts on the altercation:
Smith “was up in (Enemkpali’s) face and pointed/touched his face,” according to a source.
“Geno deserved it,” another source said.
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.
Jets head coach Todd Bowles announced Tuesday that Smith would need surgery and his estimated time of full recovery is six to 10 weeks. New York released Enemkpali just hours after he knocked the team's prospective starting QB out of the lineup.
Bleacher Report's Matt Miller praised Smith's play leading up to his third season as a pro:
"It's shocking, it's devastating, but at the same time the next guy has to step up. ... And it's someone we have a lot of confidence in," said superstar cornerback Darrelle Revis of Smith's injury, per the Jets' official Twitter account.
Next up to take over in Smith's absence is veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick. Having played in offensive coordinator Chan Gailey's system with the Buffalo Bills, Fitzpatrick figures to be comfortable running the show under center.
"Knowledge and being comfortable in [Gailey's] system is going to help me...but there are things I can get better at," said Fitzpatrick, per the Jets' Twitter account.
Manish Mehta of the New York Daily News reported the Jets "have reached out to free-agent Rex Grossman," which could help a suddenly sparse QB depth chart. That being said, Grossman hasn't started a game since the 2011 season.
Should Fitzpatrick get injured or not play well, New York's 2015 season could effectively be over in short order.
Bryce Petty is the only other realistic option for the Jets to plug in on their current roster. The Baylor product is a rookie who was chosen in the fourth round and has good size (6'3", 230 lbs) and arm talent. However, he needs to hone his skills in a pro-style offense after operating a spread attack in college.
With players such as Revis and Muhammad Wilkerson starring for the Jets defense, there's little concern over that side of the ball. However, this scuffle has only exacerbated the issues for New York's weaker side of the ball, which was last in the NFL in passing offense last season.