Football is war as theater. Violence is endemic to the sport. So it comes as no surprise that New York Jets’ linebacker Ikemefuna Enemkpali should sucker-punch his teammate, starting quarterback Geno Smith, over a $600 plane ticket Enemkpali purchased for Smith that he has yet to reimburse.
Enemkpali, (in-em-PAUL-ee) who was arrested during his Louisiana Tech days for battery of a police officer, was immediately released by the Jets. Even as NFL altercations go, this hits a new low in stupidity, and, of course, the snarkarazzi was out in force.
“Down goes Fraiser. Down goes Fraiser” got a lot of Internet yucks. (For the uninitiated, it refers to Howard Cosell’s famous call of George Foreman’s brutal beatdown of Joe Frazier in their 1973 heavyweight title bout. But note to critics from the Spelling Bee Unit of the Literary Police: If you’re going to be snide, you’re going to have to be right. It is “Frazier” not “Fraiser.”)
Anyway, whatever happened to protecting the quarterback at all costs? In my upcoming novel, “The Penalty for Holding,” protagonist Quinn Novak goes at it with tormentor Casey Kasmerek during his Stanford days. Coach Brian Olds breaks it up.
“What the hell is this?” he asked, pulling Casey off Quinn. “Kasmerek, are you crazy? Defensemen are a dime a dozen, but I can’t replace a quarterback, not a quarterback of this quality. Understand this, gentlemen – and I use the term ironically – this isn’t just our starting quarterback. This is a future Hall of Famer, one of the best that will ever be.”
OK, so maybe Smith isn’t of the lofty status that I’ve imagined for Quinn. But nobody wins when the quarterback goes down. It’s like capturing the king in chess.
But then, nobody ever wins when a situation turns violent.