Prior to Thursday night’s game between the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets, Bills head coach Rex Ryan named defensive end IK Enemkpali one of his team captains.
This obviously ruffled feathers because Enemkpali was cut from the Jets (Ryan’s former team) after he and backup quarterback Geno Smith got into a locker room scuffle which resulted in Enemkpali punching Smith in the jaw. Smith’s jaw was broken by the punch and he essentially lost his starting job to Ryan Fitzpatrick in the process.
Although, Ryan defended Enemkpali and his decision to award him team captain status.
“The Enemkpali thing, you guys know me better than that,” Ryan said, via NFL.com. “I’ve always done that. It would have been a story had I not made him a captain. And you know what? He’s not a bad kid. You think that’s the first fight that has ever happened in an NFL locker room? Every single team has had fights in their locker room, OK? You don’t think he thinks about that every single day? But he’s on our football team and I’m proud of him.”
Ryan is correct about locker room fights being common in the NFL. Although the tiff between Smith and Enemkapli was especially scandalous because it involved a starting quarterback being injured to the point he had to miss a couple months.
Enemkpali and Smith knew they would eventually face each other in Week 10 whether Enemkpali was would be a team captain or not. Enemkpali did get booed after the coin toss but other than that, there were no further issues. The defensive end participated in 16 defensive snaps but didn’t record a tackle. And, neither he or Smith commented to reporters about the fight after the game.
As for Ryan, he isn’t afraid of offending anybody nor does he care if he is hated by other teams or fans. Along with signing Enemkpali to the squad, Ryan also raised eyebrows when he signed on guard, Richie Incognito, who was suspended and eventually released by the Miami Dolphins for his involvement in a bullying incident.
None of what Ryan does should come as much of a shock because it is just the way he operates.
As for Ryan’s next opportunity to stick it to his former team, the Bills host the Jets in Week 17 on January 3, 2016. Playoff implications should be heavy, and there is a chance the Jets could get the last laugh with a win in Buffalo that could potentially knock Ryan’s team out of the postseason.