EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey—New York Jets wide receiver Brandon Marshall has made it pretty clear: he doesn’t trust sportswriters.
On Tuesday, August 11, linebacker IK Enemkpali, now with the Buffalo Bills, punched quarterback Geno Smith, then a teammate, in the face.
Two days later, after the Jets’ preseason loss to the Lions in Detroit, Marshall refused to discuss the incident with the team’s beat reporters.
“I’m just moving forward,” Marshall said to a scrum of New York writers in the catacombs of Ford Field. “I think the whole team is moving forward. I think you’ll hear that echoed throughout this locker room. It’s time for us to move forward and play ball.”
But four days later, he took a different approach, and opened up about the incident while appearing on the Fox News Channel and ESPN Radio. He promoted his charitable foundation, which helps people with mental health issues, on those networks. In 2011, Marshall was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.
Smith has been accused by some of instigating the punch by not paying back a $600 debt from the off-season.
On Fox and Friends, Marshall said, “I was sitting right there and I would say this without going into too many details because we’ve already moved past it: Geno Smith did nothing wrong . . . Smith did everything the right way.”
People in the Enemkpali camp claim that Smith pointed his finger in the linebacker’s face, which led to the punch.
On ESPN Radio’s Mike and Mike Show, Marshall said: “Did he point his finger in his face? No, he didn’t. Geno Smith, he didn’t do anything wrong that day. It’s just an unfortunate situation. It’s a body blow for us, but we have to move forward.”
These quotes created a lot of news, and injected life into a story that was starting to fade away. And the team’s beat reporters weren’t too happy with Marshall. The day after the national media appearances, they let him know it.
A reporter asked him point blank, “Why did you refuse to talk about the incident two days after it happened with us, but opened up about it almost a week later with national outlets?”
“I felt like it was an environment where people who were watching could see my exact words,” Marshall told the writers. “Live television is always good because you don’t say something that turns into a distraction to the team and your words get kind of twisted.”
Telling writers they twist his words, to their faces, didn’t go over well.
“Brandon are you suggesting that other interviews you have done since you have been here your words have been distorted or twisted?” Dom Consentino of the Star-Ledger asked Marshall.
“I just think that you have to be careful; I guess that is the best way I can answer it,” Marshall said.
Marshall’s not on an island with his theory that the printed word, more so than live broadcasts, take statements out of context.
Surely many in the political world would agree. Ask Donald Trump. Journalists twisted statement about dangerous criminals coming over the open Southern border into proof of him disliking Latinos.
But Marshall taking on the Jets beat writers, before playing in one regular season game for the team, came off as a ballsy move.
So the talented receiver better produce. Or New York sportswriters probably come after him like pit bulls.