He hasn’t taken a single snap under center for the New York Jets, but already rookie Geno Smith is experiencing the wrath and scrutiny of the New York media. Smith’s supposed character flaws and lacked of leadership qualities have been brought into question by several anonymous front office personnel across the league. In the wake of such harsh criticism, the former West Virginia standout appears unfazed by the torrent of public attacks.
"I don't worry about what people say -- my skin is pretty thick," said Smith in an interview with USA Today Sports. "I've never been in trouble."
Smith was under fire for dismissing his agents following a 2013 NFL draft which saw him fall from an expected Top-10 pick into the second round at No. 39 overall. Smith’s plummeting draft stock became a hot button topic for media outlets across the country, fueling speculation that the signal-caller is ill-prepared to be an NFL starter.
Still on the draft board during Day 2 of April’s draft, It was initially reported that Smith made plans to return home to West Virginia to watch the draft with his family, but that claims has since been disputed by Smith. Ultimately the Jets rolled on the dice on Smith, creating yet another quarterback battle in the Big Apple once training camp opens in July.
Competing alongside incumbent starter Mark Sanchez and recently inked veteran David Garrard, Smith is relishing his opportunity to win the starting job, but expressed admiration and respect for both quarterbacks.
"Mark is a great guy," Smith said. "I have the utmost respect for him and I look forward to competing with him.
"David sent me a text the day after I was drafted. I expressed how much I was looking forward to learning from him, competing with him and allowing him to mentor me and to help me get better. I'm going to do the same for him."
As Smith readies for the first year of his pro career, he seems determined to dispel the notion that he was more focused on checking his smart phone than impressing NFL scouts in the weeks leading up to the NFL draft.
"That's not true," he said. "I got strong remarks from all the teams I visited with. … I couldn't care less what's coming out in the media, because I know what's true."