Good Afternoon
Good Afternoon

Geno Smith won't press charges against Ikemefuna Enemkpali

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith looks on

New York Jets quarterback Geno Smith looks on during camp at the Jets' Atlantic Health Training Center on Monday, Aug. 10, 2015 in Florham Park, N.J. Credit: Kathleen Malone-Van Dyke

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Geno Smith said he won't press charges against former teammate and notorious jaw-puncher Ikemefuna Enemkpali. But that's pretty much all the Jets quarterback would say about the infamous punch.

Smith spoke to reporters Monday for the first time since the Aug. 11 incident, in which Enemkpali broke the quarterback's jaw in two places over an unpaid $600 debt. Smith refused to shed light on the altercation.

"None of the outsiders were in this locker room, and I think the team did a great job in moving forward and not talking about it. And that's what I want to do as well,'' he said, repeating the same refrain for almost 15 minutes. "I want to move forward . . . I've put it behind me.''

Smith also evaded the question of why he didn't pay Enemkpali the money he owed him two months ago. "That's a situation I'm not here to talk about,'' he said. "We've got to focus on the Cleveland Browns.''

When pressed again at the end of the interview, he said: "Like I said, we're not going to talk about that incident. I think some things will be clarified once the [NFL's] investigation is completed.''

He also wouldn't divulge if he's since paid Enemkpali. "Next question,'' he said curtly.

Smith expressed no regret about what happened, although coach Todd Bowles and a few teammates, including star cornerback Darrelle Revis, have said both players were to blame.

A source told Newsday last month that Smith put his finger in Enemkpali's face before the punch. Smith said he's "not at all'' embarrassed by the situation and lamented only the missed opportunity to develop preseason chemistry with wide receiver Brandon Marshall and other skill players.

"I would have loved to be out there in the preseason. But sometimes you've got to play the cards that you're dealt,'' he said. "So I'm not going to sit here and say that I regret it, because it happened. And you've just got to move forward and get better and figure out ways to still be on top of the game.''

Smith said the past few weeks have "been a little tough'' but stressed that he has the support of his coaches, teammates and family.

"These things happen in life,'' he said. "Unfortunately, it happened to me, but I'm not going to be hanging my head. I'm not that type of guy. I'm not weak-hearted. Just keep pushing on and keep working.''

The day after the incident, Enemkpali was claimed off waivers by former Jets coach Rex Ryan and the Bills. The 24-year-old linebacker was signed to the Bills' practice squad Monday after being cut last week.

Smith wore a helmet Monday for the first time since the incident and participated in positional drills. As of now, he still can't take part in team drills. Bowles didn't seem optimistic about a return sooner than the original timetable of six to 10 weeks.

"Right now, it is as it is,'' Bowles said, adding that he still expects Smith to miss the first four games.

Smith, who lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick, called the injury "a setback'' but wouldn't speculate about his future role or whether he expects to be the starter again once his jaw fully heals.

"That's a question that Coach can answer,'' he said. "I've just got to get ready and get healthy. That's the key thing.''

Smith did point out that there's "a lesson to be learned'' in every situation. So what's the takeaway here?

"I'll keep that to myself."

New York Sports