IK Enemkpali: I’ll ‘never live down’ punching Geno Smith
IK Enemkpali would like nothing more than to simply move on from his integral role in one of the most infamous locker room scuffles in NFL history. But even he understands most people will never forget what transpired last August when he punched then-teammate Geno Smith, fracturing the quarterback’s jaw.
The current Buffalo Bills linebacker acknowledged after Wednesday’s OTA session that the incident will follow him, although he’s trying to move on from it.
“2015 was rough, man,” Enemkpali told NewYorkUpstate.com’s Matthew Fairburn, via NJ.com. “To have that kind of behind me, you know the fellas still give me a hard time with it all. I’m guessing it’s something I’ll never live down. But it is what it is. It’s good to have that behind me.”
The punch reportedly was prompted by a dispute over money in some capacity — although details differ depending on who one asks — and the fallout put Smith on the shelf for several weeks, resulting with Ryan Fitzpatrick seizing the Jets’ starting quarterback job and never relinquishing it.
Enemkpali was immediately cut by the Jets shortly after the incident and signed one day later by the Buffalo Bills.
Bills head coach Rex Ryan, who was with the Jets during Enemkpali’s rookie season, believes the linebacker deserves a chance to move on from the ugly incident, crediting the 24-year-old for how he’s handled himself.
“I thought he did a really good job, because that’s not easy,” Rex Ryan said. “He certainly didn’t want that to … he doesn’t want that mark on him. Everybody sees him as the guy that punched Geno or something like that. This guy’s just a football player and that’s what he wants to be known as. That’s just an unfortunate thing that happened to him.”
Enemkpali apparently laughs it off when teammates give him grief over what happened last year. But he says he feels comfortable with the Bills. And he understands until he does something on the field to make people focus on his football skills, not his punching acumen, people will continue to focus on the events of last season.
“That’s the goal,” Enemkpali said. “Your film is your resume. I want people to know more about my play and how good of a teammate I am and how good of a leader I am and just a good person in the community. That’s the goal.”