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Ryan Clark says Ikemefuna Enemkpali is 'really tight about money'

New York Jets linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali (51) looks

New York Jets linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali (51) looks on during practice on Aug. 1 in Florham Park, N.J. Credit: Andrew Theodorakis

ESPN NFL analyst Ryan Clark appeared on the "Mike & Mike" radio show Wednesday morning and said Jets quarterback Geno Smith was "smug" about not repaying a debt to teammate Ikemefuna Enemkpali.

Enemkpali punched Smith in the locker room on Tuesday, breaking the quarterback's jaw. Smith will need surgery and is expected to miss 6-10 weeks.

Clark, who played 13 seasons in the NFL, said he spoke to players inside the locker room to get various accounts of the altercation. Clark confirmed reports that the altercation concerned a debt for a plane ticket Enemkpali had purchased for Smith to attend a football camp. The debt reportedly was $600.

Clark said during the course of the argument, Smith put his finger in Enemkpali's face and said, "You're not going to do anything about it."

"I've dealt with IK a lot," Clark said. "This guy is really tight about money. He really is. Where as I've seen other players have this happen and kind of just move on from it, he couldn't. A lot of people are saying you don't punch a guy over that amount of money."

Enemkpali, who was released by the Jets immediately after the incident, was scheduled to make $510,000 in base salary this season, per Spotrac, a website that tracks players' salaries.

Clark said he got to know Enemkpali from their time working out together at a training facility.

"It became about the fact that Geno wasn't necessarily apologetic and being in a way remorseful about the money when saying he was going to pay IK back and he didn't," Clark said. "He was rather smug about it. These guys got into earlier on in camp about this money and so the argument continued into [Tuesday]. These guys were in each other's face."

Clark said it was an inexcusable act by Enemkpali.

"You don't punch the fifth-string long snapper in the face much less the first-string quarterback," Clark said.

Clark, however, said Enemkpali didn't deliver a sucker punch to Smith.

"These were two men in an altercation. Was Geno prepared to fight? Probably not," Clark said. "But in a sense of a sucker punch, two guys arguing and one guy getting punched doesn't equate to a sucker punch to me."

According to Clark, the incident escalated before teammates or coaches could diffuse the situation.

"It was one of those things that escalated to a point of boiling over before anyone could really get to it," Clark said. "These guys had argued about this before. This wasn't the first time they had an issue of this same situation."

Clark also said he spoke to Enemkpali, who was "extremely apologetic" about the incident. Clark said Enemkpali will not come out and give his side of the story."He's actually a really quiet guy," Clark said.

Clark called Enemkpali "hard working" and an "extremely good guy" for the short period of time he spent with him. Clark also said there was some tension regarding Enemkpali paying fees to the training facility.

Clark said it will be tough for Enemkpali to get another shot in the NFL because it will be hard for a team to take him after what he did to Smith.

New York Sports