Daily News’ Jets beat reporter Manish Mehta wrote what can only be described as a blatant hit piece on quarterback Geno Smith, a complete and total character assassination of the lowest order.
Geno Smith is not without his faults both on and off the football field, but the lengths to which Mehta went in attempting to destroy the quarterback’s reputation makes you wonder if there isn’t something deeply personal behind the attack.
In case you haven’t read it, Mehta accuses Smith of immature, insecure, and delusional, while also insinuating – with no proof to back his claim – that league executives across the league were laughing at the Giants for meeting with Smith over the weekend.
And that’s just in the first three sentences.
Mehta would go on to call him a “child,” blame him for “whining behind closed doors,” and posit that he should go play football in Canada, because “maybe he can grow up” there.
He even took a gratuitous shot at Smith’s agent, saying she is “lost” and is nothing more than an “enabler” for the quarterback. Mehta does not back those assertions up with anything, which makes it a perfect fit for an article already filled to the brim with groundless vitriol.
There’s more, but I think you get the point.
Considering how thin the Jets’ options are at quarterback right now and the fact that Smith is young, wouldn’t cost much, and has flashed potential on several occasions, the idea that any reporter would savage him this badly suggests Mehta is likely driven by an agenda of some sort.
Perhaps it is related to Mehta’s claim that he saw Smith try to bully a reporter last season. Maybe he is trying to get revenge on behalf of a friend in the media.
Whatever his motivations, this would not be the first time he went off on a character assassination based crusade.
Back in 2015, the Jets fired Rex Ryan as their head coach and hired then Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to replace him.
But at one point before Bowles was hired, Doug Marrone was considered a strong candidate – and perhaps even the frontrunner – for the job.
Marrone had just come off a 9-7 season as head coach in Buffalo – their first winning season in 10 years – when he took advantage of an escape clause in his contract and opted out. Given that he was from the Bronx and had previously been an offensive line coach for the Jets, it seemed that he would make quite a bit of sense as the man to replace Rex Ryan.
But just as his candidacy seemed to get some traction, Mehta unleashed a series of nasty hit pieces against Marrone, using anonymously sourced quotes to paint him as a “control freak” and “dangerous person to have in the building,” who was disliked by players, front office staff, and fellow coaches.
What was motivating Mehta’s campaign against Marrone? It could be that he did not wish to deal with Marrone, who had a reputation for being difficult with reporters in Buffalo. It is also possible he knew one of those reporters and was looking to pay the coach back for being a jerk to a friend.
But one thing is clear: in the land of supposedly legitimate reporting, anonymous sources and baseless personal attacks reign supreme with Manish Mehta.
It is exactly that approach which earned him a complete spanking at the hands of former ESPN host Keith Olbermann. Olbermann may have a few screws loose himself, but he clearly took apart Mehta’s attempt to manufacture a story about Rex Ryan possibly being fired four years ago, and in the process, exposed to a national audience what a smoke and mirrors routine the Daily News’ beat reporter habitually engages in.
Consider a recent Mehta article, “Jets are hot for North Carolina’s Mitch Trubisky.” The entire premise of the column was that the Jets were desperate to land Trubisky, a quarterback prospect who is projected to go in the first round.
His evidence for this assertion? An anonymous quote from a “rival scout” who claimed that the Jets “love that kid.”
Assuming that “rival scout” even exists, exactly how on earth would he know what the Jets think of Trubisky? Do Mike Maccagnan and his scouts watch film, take notes, and then email those notes to scouts from other teams?
Hell, the column was written several weeks before the season even ended, so what on earth would make anybody think the Jets had meticulously studied Trubisky – or any draft prospects for that matter – when the 2016 season was still ongoing?
Sadly, much like the Rex Ryan story that Olbermann criticized him for, Mehta’s Trubisky column got quite a bit of mileage with fans and the media, with numerous other outlets stirring the discussion that Mehta had started, seemingly out of nothing.
I realize this is just sports so nobody takes reporting about it too seriously, but this kind of stuff is very dangerous.
It is one thing when you are putting out articles about the Jets supposedly liking a QB prospect that may be full of nonsense, or even openly speculating about what the team will or should do.
But when you are a reporter with a major newspaper who is writing unfounded hatchet jobs that could help cost a man a job or possibly threaten to destroy the reputation of a player you do not like, you are not only being incredibly dishonest, but you are also going way outside the scope of what your job is supposed to be.
Maybe Geno Smith isn’t the only one who needs a stint in Canada. Maybe Mehta can go there to “salvage” whatever is left of his reputation.
Photo Credit: NewYorkJets.com