Former Jets linebacker Bart Scott expressed disappointment over quarterback Geno Smith getting punched in the jaw by teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali earlier this month, but suggested that Smith could have avoided the entire incident by coming up with some cold, hard cash.
Enemkpali leveled Smith in the Jets' locker room Aug. 11 during an argument over a $600 airline ticket Enemkpali had purchased for the quarterback to attend his football camp. Smith missed the camp because a close friend had died, but he felt he should have to reimburse the linebacker.
"[Smith] should have paid him, and then also, he should have given him another $1,000 toward his charity and now you have an ally for life," Scott said at a CBS preseason media event Tuesday in New York. "So [Smith] missed an opportunity to really have this guy in his corner and to send a message that he's a team guy for everybody."
Smith suffered a fractured jaw that required surgery, and he's expected to miss as many as the first six games of the season. The Jets released Enemkpali the day of the fight, and Buffalo, coached by Rex Ryan, claimed him off waivers the next day. Enemkpali faces a potential fine or suspension for punching Smith.
"It was unfortunate, but I think it's something that both of them can learn from," said Scott, who played for the Jets from 2009-12. He has been a CBS analyst since 2013. "In that situation, things are heightened and sometimes you don't handle things the right way."
Scott believes Smith must learn that he's viewed differently in the locker room because of the position he plays.
"Geno has to understand that he's the quarterback and he's held to a higher standard than most positions," Scott said. "As a quarterback, you have to make sure that these guys are willing to lay it on the line for you. If they both could do it all over again, they would go about it differently and would have had a strong bond."
Had Smith taken Scott's advice by not only reimbursing Enemkpali for the plane ticket but also making a donation to his charity, the quarterback could have made a strong statement not only to the linebacker, but to the rest of the team.
"That's how you create that close bond between teammates, so when it comes to getting the benefit of the doubt, you've earned the benefit of the doubt," Scott said. "You have to develop a relationship off the field as well as on the field. You can't just see your teammate as a co-worker. You have to see him as a member of the family."