No Amount of Surgery Will Remedy Geno Smith's Career
In the days and weeks leading up to the 2013 NFL Draft, Geno Smith, the young quarterback out of West Virginia, was touted as a definite first-rounder. As a result, he was invited to stay in the beloved green room on the first official draft day to wait for his name to be called by one of the 32 teams in the league.
Smith received a lot of national camera time, but was not chosen by the New York Jets as the No. 13 pick, while the Buffalo Bills selected EJ Manuel, who ended up being the lone quarterback drafted in the first round, as No. 16.
Considering New York, Buffalo, the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Minnesota Vikings were touted as potential, probable destinations for Smith by the end of the first round, panic undoubtedly set in within his camp by the time Manuel was picked.
Smith returned to the green room on the second day and was finally drafted as No. 39 overall by the Jets, who initially wanted to trade up in the second round to acquire him, could not consummate one, but was still able to nab him. Following this well-documented Draft Day slide, Smith promptly fired his agents, rumored to be because he viewed himself as a top four pick.
True or not, these events only underscored what his critics pointed out before and after the draft. Many noted that Smith’s decline toward the end of his last season at Virginia State was a cause for worry, while others thought that the way he dealt with the draft highlighted some maturity issues. In its annual draft guide, Pro Football Weekly also painted Smith in a negative light, writing that he was “not a student of the game” and “doesn't command respect from teammates."
Despite these criticisms, Jets general manager John Idzik, who was also a rookie at the time, declared that Smith and Mark Sanchez would be battling it out for the starter role.
Idzik has since been fired, and last Tuesday, Jets head coach Todd Bowles stated that Smith would be out six to ten weeks. Not because of a strained groin or twisted ankle, or any injury sustained on the field. But because his jaw was fractured in the locker room. By a teammate. More specifically, linebacker IK Enemkpali, who was a reserve player drafted in the sixth round.
As it turns out, the altercation occurred because Smith refused to reimburse Enemkpali, who has since been released from the Jets, the $600 the latter paid for airline tickets for a charity event he hosted. Smith had promised to repay the debt, but when he kept stalling, Enemkpali confronted him in the locker room, leading to the quarterback’s broken jaw.
The context of the situation worsens Smith’s reputation exponentially and also makes his status on the Jets a lot more tentative. Quarterbacks are seen as the leaders of their teams as well as someone who can mediate issues between other players. It is obvious that Smith breaks the norms of the quarterback position. Not only did he allow the locker room situation to escalate to a level that may cause him to miss five regular season games, he has been indirectly called out by his own teammates and even Bowles.
Fast forward two seasons, and Pro Football Weekly's, as well the words of Smith's other critics, seem eerily prescient.