Geno Smith: I always idolized Michael Jordan

With sky high hopes for Jets' quarterback Geno Smith, the rookie is no stranger to pressure after watching the greatest athlete of his generation rise above all the criticism and earn the ultimate respect from teammates, fans and the media.

He was synonymous with success at the highest level and arguably the most widely recognized icon in sports history, so it should come as no surprise that New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith admired Michael Jordan's legendary basketball career growing up. This week Smith set the record straight with the media and made it clear he isn't drawing any comparisons between his career and that of the great Air Jordan's.

"No, you're putting words in my mouth, I said I always idolized Michael," clarified Smith. "I mean, I'm pretty sure, most kids in my generation have. I just want to try to do some of the things that he has done. From my observation of him he was always the consummate competitor. He held his teammates and himself to a high standard and he carried it every single day and every walk through life."

Not a bad career path to follow for a young athlete looking to capture the Jets' starting signal-caller job and survive in the pressure cooker that is New York.

Smith is already feeling the heat of media scrutiny after NFL Network's Brian Baldinger intimated that the first year pro was ‘out of shape' after finishing running drills behind his fellow teammates. The former West Virginia standout isn't fazed by the recent criticisms of his conditioning.

"That's his opinion," said Smith. "You know my coaches are the ones who evaluate me so I haven't heard that from them so I don't have anything to say about that."

Smith has impressed the coaching staff through the first week of practice, not tossing a single interception and demonstrating laser-like accuracy in the pocket. As the rookie battles it out with embattled veteran Mark Sanchez, Smith decided to take the high road when evaluating his top competition.

"Well, I don't evaluate Mark," noted Smith. "My job is to be his teammate and to push him on the practice field and to encourage him and that's what I try and do. We all make mistakes and that's why we are out here practicing so we can try and eliminate those mistakes and get better."

Rick Laughland covers the New York Jets for

You can follow him on Twitter @rlaughland Follow Rick

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