Quincy Enunwa didn’t hesitate.
Spirited competition between his “big brother,” Jets receiver Brandon Marshall, and cornerback Darrelle Revis had quickly escalated on that summer day into disrespectful trash talk on the practice field. And it didn’t take long for Enunwa to intercede.
His decision to envelop Marshall in a bear hug and carry him away from Revis diffused a potentially volatile situation between two of the Jets’ biggest stars. But it also was a window into the undeniable bond between the two receivers.
“I’ve got to get him out of situations, just like he gets me out of situations,” Enunwa said as he reflected this past week on the highly-publicized incident on Aug. 5.
Months later, he remains just as protective of Marshall, the mentor who took him under his wing last offseason and pushed him to perfect his craft. Albeit with a friendly smile, Enunwa carefully avoids divulging too many details about their conversations, preferring to relay information about their exchanges in mostly general terms.
On the surface, it seems as though their similarities begin and end at their position. But dig a little deeper and you’ll find that the two share far more in common than catching passes. Their drive and highly competitive nature forged the foundation of their friendship, but it’s their shared approach to life and football that strengthened their bond.
“Externally, we’re on opposite ends of the spectrum: he’s more reserved, quiet and to himself. And me . . . ,” Marshall said with a smile as he sat at his locker on the opposite side of the locker room. “I’m always talking. I’m all over the place. Dancing. Internally, we’re the same type of person. Very passionate. Very competitive, very feisty. So we get each other that way.”
And neither one is afraid to call out the other when necessary.
“I don’t care. I say whatever to him,” Enunwa said, smiling. “He’ll tell you that. That’s the relationship we have. Just because you’re my big brother, that doesn’t mean I can’t say something.”
It took a year of playing together for the 24-year-old to feel that comfortable. Now they’ve become each other’s sounding board and personal cheerleader.
“It’s almost like we just vent to each other,” Marshall said, laughing. “A lot of times, I just tell him, ‘Hey, it’s going to come. One play at a time. Just stick with it.’ ”
Enunwa’s emergence has been a bright spot in an otherwise disappointing season for the Jets, who are 3-8 heading into Monday night’s game against the Colts. But it was his first career 100-yard receiving game against the Patriots last week that had Marshall, 32, beaming with pride. “I feel like a proud uncle,” he said.
The 2014 sixth-round pick made five catches for 109 yards in the 22-17 loss, becoming the 11th different Jet to snag at least four 20-yard catches in a game and the first to do it since 2002 (Santana Moss against Minnesota). But it was Enunwa’s 22-yard “Butt Tumble” touchdown catch over Malcolm Butler in the back corner of the end zone that cemented his status as a playmaker.
Marshall, who leads the team with 49 catches for 668 yards, has three touchdowns to Enunwa’s four. But he’s more than happy to share the spotlight with his pupil.
“I believe that’s the main purpose in life, not just in sports — to pull others up while you climb the ladder,” Marshall said.
Marshall said Enunwa, who has 43 catches for 643 yards this season, first “jumped off the screen” during the 2015 preseason because of his blocking skills. “I had so much respect for him because he wasn’t catching any balls and he was just demolishing defensive ends and linebackers,” Marshall said.
Marshall also said that after Enunwa confided in him that he had “confidence issues” with catching passes, Marshall worked with him on his route-running. “It seemed like he was going to break his kneecaps on every single route,” Marshall joked.
Enunwa credited his “big brother” for helping him in the classroom — “He watches a lot of film on his own and then he’ll send me a text,” he said — and for getting his mind right each week.
“A lot of the game is mental, so you’ve really got to get your mindset on a certain level,” Enunwa said. “When you get to this level, you can’t just go out there and lollygag and think you’re going to be able to play well.”
Enunwa’s development, however, didn’t come as a surprise to Marshall, who described his pupil as a “no ego, really humble guy” who’s “a sponge” in the classroom and on the field.
“One of the most hurtful things is when you see someone with potential and you try to help them, and they do nothing with it,” Marshall said. “I’m really proud of him and . . . I’m just happy for our team because it makes it better when he’s out there balling like that.”