MANKATO – The NFL could play the rest of the season and never have a more “NFL” story than the one that came out Tuesday about the Jets. (Then again, something could eclipse it in the next 16 seconds. This is, after all, the NFL).
In case you missed it, Jets quarterback Geno Smith — likely the team’s Week 1 starter — was sucker-punched by teammate IK Enemkpali in a locker room dispute that reportedly stemmed from $600 Smith owed Enemkpali for lost travel expenses.
Smith’s jaw was broken and he is out 6-10 weeks; Enemkpali was immediately released by the Jets, with the delicious twist to the story Wednesday being that he was picked up by the Bills — coached by, yes, former Jets coach Rex Ryan.
It has everything the NFL is about these days: a childish dispute? Check. (Unless you think NFL vs. the Patriots has been the model of mature behavior). Violence? Check. Money squabble? Check. Revenge? Check. An embarrassing story that made the sport look bad? Check.
The Vikings had their fair share of stories that checked all or most of these requisite boxes over the years. Some would argue that they’ve had more than their share.
But I cannot recall, at least off the top of my head, a case where their quarterback was sucker-punched. Nobody at training camp Wednesday could either, so that’s a win for the organization.
Current starting quarterback Teddy Bridgewater — mild-mannered and affable based on what we know and see — also seems to be about the least likely candidate to be punched among starting QBs in the NFL. So again, that’s good news.
And even if there was a perfect storm brewing in the Vikings locker room, one would like to think it would end before it got to the point of a broken jaw, right?
“It’s obviously a situation you don’t want to have going in your camp,” Vikings linebacker Chad Greenway said, with the added caveat that he hadn’t followed the Jets story closely. “It’s something where somebody needs to step in and try to de-escalate the situation, and that unfortunately didn’t happen [in New York].”
Defensive end Brian Robison agreed, noting the difference between typical camp behavior and what happened with the Jets.
“You try to not let it escalate to that point,” Robison said. “You’re always going to have arguments, you’re going to have scuffles on the field and things like that, but you never want it to overflow into the locker room or off the field.”
Indeed. So far, so good. Wednesday was another pretty quiet day at Vikings camp — far removed from the situation in New York, and just the way the organization wants it.