By Ernie Palladino
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Controversy from within is one thing, and heaven knows the Jets generate plenty of that.
But when somebody from the outside jumps unprovoked on the pile, well, that should get everybody’s hackles up.
Carolina Panthers wide receiver Steve Smith decided to go cheap-school with a shot about Mark Sanchez during Wednesday’s co-hosting gig on a Charlotte radio-gab show. Apparently out of thoughts of geographical or demographical relevance, he blurted that he wouldn’t let the embattled quarterback throw him “a paper bag sandwich.”
Aside from one’s preference of sandwich-thrower running directly proportional to one’s hunger level, let’s also point out that Smith makes his current living catching passes from Cam Newton. As far as anyone knows in New York and New Jersey, there are no plans as of yet to trade Sanchez to Carolina. Nor is Carolina likely to send Smith up here. So the throwing of food, pigskins, or any other object from Sanchez’s arm should be of no concern to the flighty and, some might say, unstable, wide receiver.
This is not the first time the opinionated and often animated Smith has overstepped the bounds of class. He was briefly jailed in 2002 for a film-room punchout of practice squad player Anthony Bright. Smith put Bright in the hospital for two days with a broken nose, and wound up in anger management counseling.
In calmer times, Smith remains one of the NFL’s more colorful guys, always quick with an opinion. Clearly, he’s trying to make some inroads into broadcasting, and as Tiki Barber showed the New York crowd, shock-jock tactics are the quickest way to a regular paycheck. But just as Tiki brought legions of critics into Eli Manning’s camp, Smith managed to turn Sanchez into a sympathetic character here.
If the Jets find any unity at all this year, the back of the defense should be circling Dec. 15. That’s when the two teams meet, and that’s when the Jets should be planning one or two on-field get-togethers with Smith regardless of whether Sanchez or Geno Smith starts that game.
It’s like Vegas. What goes on in Florham Park stays in Florham Park. It’s certainly none of Smith’s concern.
On the other hand, no one could blame anyone outside the Jets locker room for having a small, private laugh at the goings-on inside. The same day as Smith unleashed his salvo from afar, free-agent pickup David Garrard threw a hand grenade into the organization’s planned training camp competition by announcing his retirement due to knee problems.
Didn’t see that coming, right? The guy hadn’t played since 2010 because of back and knee issues. This year, he didn’t even make it to training camp, much less serve as a 35-year-old placeholder for Smith. A handful of offseason training sessions, and that was it for the ex-Jaguar. He’s probably better off. At least he’ll leave with his sanity.
The circus rolls on. It’s a two-man race now between Sanchez and Smith, and the emotionally frail veteran will have to beat out a cocky, strong-armed rookie who has made an instant fan out of owner Woody Johnson.
Rex Ryan is still running things at center ring, for sure. But it’s the Jets’ circus. And it’s the Jets fans’ circus.
It’s not Smith’s. Never was, never will be.
Let him get his own sandwich.
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