When word first came out that Jets QB Geno Smith had his jaw broken by now former teammate IK Enemkpali, it was first describe as a sucker punch. Hey, not much can be done about that. But as more information is coming out, there seems to be less about a “sucker punch” and more about an escalation of a conflict. I’d call it a haymaker, from what I’ve read, but it is a bit of a crucial point.
The conflict stemmed from something off the field relating to $600 for a plane ticket for a missed football camp. Enemkpali wanted his money from Smith and confronted Smith about it. This went on in the locker room. Smith at that point had some choices. He could either: (1) walk away; (2) get some cooler heads involved in toning it down; (3) cool himself off; or (4) square up on Enemkpali, put a finger in his face and pretty much dare Enemkpali to hit him.
On the other side, Enemkpali had those same choices. But the balance of power in the very near term was in his favor. Enemkpali is a larger man, first and foremost. And the most important aspect: Enemkpali had less to lose. Much less.
- Geno Smith has about $3 million remaining on his contract to be earned, with over a million guaranteed. Enemkpali around $500,00 to be made this year.
- Geno Smith was fighting for his career and next contract and hoping not to be an NFL bust. Enemkpali is just trying to make the team.
- Geno Smith has endorsement deals. Enemkpali probably doesn’t even HAVE a Q Score
- Geno Smith has a clean history. Enemkpali has a history of punching people, like an off-duty cop.
- Geno Smith is a QB, the face of the franchise. Enemkpali was, well, pretty much unknown until yesterday.
Geno Smith had much more to lose than $600. Geno Smith had much more to lose than Enemkpali, both on the field and off the field. And yet, Geno Smith chose the single riskiest option. Of course, Geno may have weighed the ethos of how he would be viewed if he backed down and took the risk because he needed to show toughness.
I see this frequently. People overplaying their hands against people with much less to lose. Geno let his ego get in the way of sound judgement and weighing the risks. Geno Smith greatly misinterpreted Enemkpali’s personality an demeanor. From reports, Geno was smug and acted entitled. And it ended with a broken jaw.
In hindsight, Geno Smith likely realizes he shouldn’t have messed with this guy. There were other solutions available that, yes, required him to put his ego aside. Weigh the odds. Weigh the risks. Set ego aside and stop and think. For Geno Smith’s career is now at stake. Not from a broken jaw, for that will no doubt heal.
Geno Smith’s career is at risk because of the long-term consequences of being smug and arrogant without the performance to back it up. Brady? Manning? Rodgers? They can be as smug and arrogant as they like and the balance of power weighs much more in their favor.
Know who you are. Know who you are against. And weigh just how much you have to lose versus the opponent.