Rex Ryan just got himself a brutal welcome back from Jets fans in his MetLife Stadium return.
IK Enemkpali punched Geno Smith three months ago, and now Rex Ryan is throwing in a symbolic jab just for good measure. Enemkpali will be a captain against the Jets when Ryan, now the Bills coach, and the outside linebacker take on their former team on Thursday at MetLife Stadium.
“I’ll get ripped, whatever,” Ryan said of his decision to make Enemkpali a captain. “I do this all the time.”
Oh yes — Hurricane Ryan is coming back into town.
“Typical Rex,” Brandon Marshall said. “That’s a Rex Ryan move. Are you guys surprised?
“Love it,” Marshall added. “He has the balls to do it.”
Not everyone may be so keen. After all, Enemkpali did deck Smith so hard in the locker room that he broke the quarterback’s jaw. Enemkpali was immediately cut by the Jets and scooped up by Ryan on waivers.
The incident essentially derailed Smith’s career. He had been the starter at the time. But after a disagreement over $ 600 led to the Enemkpali punch, the Jets had to turn to Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback. When Fitzpatrick played well and the Jets got out to a hot start, Smith remained as the backup even when healthy.
So would some Jets players, perhaps still harboring bitter feelings about Enemkpali knocking out their quarterback, go for retribution in Thursday’s game?
“You’d have to ask other guys,” Marshall said. “For the most part it’s just football. It’s not a soap opera, it’s not TMZ.”
Clearly, Marshall wasn’t around when Ryan was the coach.
But Monday was the perfect example of the contrast between the Jets’ old coach and their new one. While Ryan can’t resist stirring it up every chance he gets, Todd Bowles was never going to engage the Enemkpali storyline.
Ex-Jet IK Enemkpali, who was released by Gang Green for breaking Geno Smith’s jaw, will captain the Bills Thursday against his former team.
“I mean, he coaches his team,” Bowles said. “He can name whoever captain he wants.”
And because Bowles doesn’t have the same penchant for the dramatic that Ryan does, we likely won’t see the only thing that could top Enemkpali as a captain: Smith being named captain, too.
“We haven’t discussed it yet,” Bowles said.
Enemkpali won’t be the only captain, as Ryan said former Jet Matthew Mulligan will also get the honor for the game. Dating back to his last few years with the Jets, Ryan often made players who had a connection to the opponent or geographical area game captains.
Early on in his Monday press conference, Ryan tried to downplay his reunion with the team that fired him at the end of last season. He attempted to play it off as just another game, before joking, “Look, if Jace Amaro was playing then it would be a different story.”
Amaro and Ryan got into a war of words after the Jets fired Ryan.
But eventually, the real Ryan shone through with his Enemkpali statement as well as when he was asked what he thought the fan reaction would be to his return.
“I think we all know. There is going to be a lot of waving out there,” Ryan said. “With one finger and all that stuff. That much is a given. There is no doubt.”
Enemkpali, via the Buffalo News, said he thought he might receive the same treatment from the fans.
When he was asked if he has kept in touch with Smith, the linebacker said, “Next question.”
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