FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Quincy Enunwa had a lot of time to just think — and not play football — during the last month.
The New York Jets wide receiver rejoined the team this week following a four-game suspension for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
“I want to keep going forward,” Enunwa said Thursday, “and be a positive influence on the team.”
Enunwa was banned by the league last month after an incident last year in which he was arrested for simple assault on his girlfriend at a New Jersey hotel. Domestic violence charges were later dropped in the case.
During his suspension, Enunwa was not permitted to play, practice or work out at the Jets’ facility with his teammates.
“That time off was kind of rough,” he acknowledged. “I can’t say that it was the best time of my life, those four weeks off, watching the guys play. It was hard, but I knew I kind of had to get my time done so I could come back out here and help the team as best I could.”
He was arrested just after the league put in place tougher penalties for players accused of domestic violence, including a six-week suspension for first offenses and at least a year for second offenses. The NFL and NFL Players Association negotiated the suspension down to four games from six. Enunwa’s cooperation, remorse and acceptance of responsibility factored into the reduced ban. The NFL’s personal conduct policy also provides for the possibility of mitigation.
“I’m just glad that it’s past me and I’m hoping now that I can just focus on football and go out there and help the team as best I can,” Enunwa said. “No outside interferences. I want to kind of stay on the straight and narrow for the rest of my career.”
Florham Park police said Enunwa pulled the woman off a bed in a hotel on Aug. 31, 2014, and she injured her head and finger. The woman decided to not pursue the case, which was conditionally dismissed in court last October.
Enunwa, in his second season with the Jets, declined to discuss any of the details of the situation.
“I think the best thing for me is to just move past it,” he said. “For me, and everybody else involved, family and everything. I kind of just want to keep going forward with football. That being the main focus, I don’t want to be a distraction on the team.”
Enunwa was a sixth-round draft pick out of Nebraska last year after he had 12 touchdowns for the Cornhuskers in 2013 and was the Gator Bowl MVP. He spent most of last season on the Jets’ practice squad, but saw an increased role under coach Todd Bowles and offensive coordinator Chan Gailey.
He surprisingly passed Jeremy Kerley as the Jets’ No. 3 receiver, in large part because of his blocking abilities. Enunwa has eight catches for 94 yards in five games this season, but he was being used very much like a tight end. His absence the last four games has coincided with New York’s slump in the run game.
“There were certain roles I was used in that we didn’t use when I was gone,” he said. “So hopefully me being back, I can help as much as possible.”
The Jets have a roster exemption this week for Enunwa, which means they need to make a move to officially make room for him. Running back Zac Stacy, who broke his left ankle against Buffalo last week, could be placed on injured reserve.
Enunwa worked out at Parabolic Performance in New Jersey during his time away from the team, and hasn’t felt at all rusty during practice with the Jets this week.
“I’ve been doing pretty well, running around and flying around,” he said. “Surprisingly, the playbook came to me really fast, and that was good.”
Enunwa acknowledged he was “a little bit worried” about how some of his teammates would react to him coming back following his suspension. But he said he was open with them, answering their questions, and felt the relationships he has built with several players helped alleviate any potential tension when he returned Monday.
“It has definitely helped me grow a lot,” Enunwa said of the entire situation. “I learned a lot about the NFL. I learned a lot about myself. I just want to make sure I don’t put myself in any kind of position like that again.”
As for what he learned about the NFL, Enunwa realizes there’s more than just being a player on the field.
“There’s a lot of sides to the NFL,” the wide receiver said, “and I never want to be on that side of the NFL (again).”
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