New York Jets reserve linebacker IK Enemkpali went from anonymous backup to internet meme in the span of a few minutes on Tuesday. Head coach Todd Bowles announced that Enemkpali punched Geno Smith in the face during a dispute in the locker room, breaking the quarterback’s jaw in two places and leaving fans wondering who had dealt the much-maligned Smith another brutal blow.
Enemkpali was drafted in the sixth round in 2014 and played sparingly as a rookie. He recorded two tackles and defended two passes while playing on 3.9% of New York’s defensive snaps. He also played 8.6% of the plays on special teams.
The Jets released Enemkpali after the incident.
A native of Pflugerville, Texas, 20 miles north of Austin, Enemkpali played college football at Louisiana Tech. He was a two-time first-team all-conference selection in his four seasons with the Bulldogs. He graduated with 17.5 career sacks, the third-most in school history.
In 2011, after his freshman season at Louisana Tech, Enemkpali was arrested for battery on a police officer and disturbing the peace after he allegedly punched an off-duty officer a fight at a bar. “A uniformed officer arrived on the scene and used pepper spray on him, but that didn’t subdue him,” ESPN’s Rich Cimini wrote last year. “Finally, the officer stunned Enemkpali with a Taser, reports said.”
Enemkpali eventually pleaded down to a charge of misdemeanor battery and was sentenced to 13 months probation, ordered to attend anger management classes and complete community service.
After news of the fight against Smith broke, several old media reports about Enemkpali suddenly took on different meanings. His NFL.com draft profile mentioned that he “flashes shock and violence in his punch.” In December, he told JetsInsider.com that he was anxious to get a few sacks because “it’s going to be good to go out there and get my hands on the quarterback.”