Six hundred dollars cost him an opportunity with the Jets.
Since the 2013 NFL Draft its been a whirl wind for Geno Smith. Now in his fifth year in the NFL Smith has been through many quarterback controversies and scenarios. So many that he wasn’t fazed when New York Giants decided to bench Eli Manning, who has started 210 consecutive NFL games and won two Super Bowls, in favor of him.
“I wasn’t shocked or surprised. I understand things happen in this business and you have to be ready for whatever happens,” Smith told reporters Tuesday. “No ones job is 100 percent secure. Injuries happen, things happen. You just got to continue to roll with the punches.”
If anyone knows how to respond to a situation like this its Smith who’s been on both sides of this throughout his career. He experienced being in the green room on draft night without getting selected on day one when he was a projected first round pick. His career began with the quarterback controversy with the New York Jets the offseason they had six quarterbacks before David Garrard decided to retire and Tim Tebow was eventually cut by the organization. That same year incumbent Mark Sanchez was winning the position battle in preseason and Rex Ryan decided to sub him in the fourth quarter of the third preseason game. Sanchez consequently sustained a torn labrum that later landed him on the injured reserved. The situation resulted in Smith becoming a day one starter before he was ready.
Smith had an inconsistent rookie reason where the team ultimately finished 8-8. It turned out to be the only full season Smith had started. Year two he was benched for backup quarterback Michael Vick midway through the season after resuming his starting role. For Smith, it would only go downhill after that.
After the 2014 season where Jets finished 4-12 both head coach Rex Ryan and general manager John Idzik, who drafted Smith, were fired. Bringing in veterans such as Darrelle Revis, who was reuniting with the team after a two year stint elsewhere, and wide receiver Brandon Marshall the team was building to win with new head coach Todd Bowles.
Supposedly year three would be the year Smith finally had a break out season surrounded with more talent on offense. But everything came crashing down for Smith who wound up losing his starting job during the preseason over a $600 altercation.
When former Jet teammate IK Enemkpali paid $600 to cover air fare and limousine fees so Smith could attend a charity event in Texas, Smith was a no show. The claim was a friend of Smith passed away the day before which is why he didn’t attend, according to NY Daily News. Having already paid the money Enemkpali was furious Smith hadn’t paid him back. When Enemkpali punched Smith in the locker room he broke his jaw and it kept him out for weeks.
In the midst of a quarterback competition with Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bowles made it clear he had no sympathy for Smith. While Enemkpali was released by the team Bowles still held Smith accountable saying, during a press conference addressing the situation, it was possible Smith may have cost himself the starting job that season.
“It takes two to tango…one to throw a punch but two to tango,” Bowles said following the incident. “If the other guy’s playing well and the boat’s going right and there are no waves and everything’s going and we’re 4 or 5 or 6 or 7-0, yeah, you’re not coming back to start.”
That season, with the new offensive weapons, the team performed well and when Smith was medically cleared he didn’t start a game that season and only played in one. The team finished that season 10-6, one game out from making the playoffs after former coach Ryan and his Bills defeated the Jets in a week 17 win-and-in playoffs scenario.
Heading into the 2016 season Smith was prepared to lead the much improved Jets. With Fitzpatrick a free agent after he and the team couldn’t agree to a deal Smith was preparing all offseason to be the starter. But when training camp was underway Fitzpatrick agreed to a deal and that meant Smith would be the back up.
“I was pissed,” Smith told reporters after hearing the news that Fitzpatrick would return.
That season Fitzpatrick and Jets struggled. With Smith waiting in the wind he was finally given some action. Week 7 he was finally given an opportunity to start but it didn’t last long as he torn his ACL ending his 2016 season.
After a rocky four years with Jets he decided to stay in New York signing with the Giants this past offseason for a one year deal. His goal was to learn from Manning while getting healthy recovering form his ACL injury. With the team eliminated from playoff contention this season at 2-9, Smith will start week 13 for the Giants. For him, its an opportunity to show the world what he can do.
“I’m always excited to have an opportunity to play but there’s not major reaction. I didn’t throw a party or anything,” Smith told reporters Tuesday.
After hearing the news he made it clear that he’s in Manning’s corner as he’s a quarterback he’s always respected.
“This guy has done a tremendous job in this league and for this organization. Nothing can ever be taken away or forgotten,” Smith said of Manning. “I learned a lot from him in just the short time I’ve been here. Its a tough deal because I do have a lot of respect for him. I do understand what he means to this organization but like I said its a business and every man has got to do what it takes to feed his family.
“I know he’s (Manning) hurt because I’ve been through it…I continue to reiterate to him that I’m in his corner and he said that to me since day one and that means a lot to me.”
Taking full advantage of his own opportunity in front of him, the 27-year-old made it clear of his expectations starting Sunday against Oakland Raiders.
“I want to go out there and I want to win for these guys. I want to play hard for the organization. I think it’s important for us to kind of get some things going. Its going to be a great opportunity so I look forward to it,” Smith said.
Prior to Smith’s start, New York Giants is the only team in the NFL who has not started a black quarterback. Whatever happens in Smith’s debut, he will be making history of his own for the Big Apple’s most prized football franchise.