The father of New York Giants quarterback Geno Smith received death threats before last Sunday’s game against the Oakland Raiders.
Geno Smith Jr. said in an interview with NJ Advance Media that he received the call roughly an hour after the Giants announced his son would start in place of Eli Manning against the Raiders. Manning started 210 consecutive regular season games before being benched for the 24-17 loss.
“I was just at work,” Smith Jr. said. “I answered, and he was like, ‘Geno?’, So I just listened, and he was like, ‘Is this Geno?’ I was like, ‘Yeah’. He was like, ‘Your son better not start or we’re going to kill you’. I kind of just laughed and then he hung up.”
Smith Jr. said he received another call after the Giants fired head coach Ben McAdoo and general manager Jerry Reese Monday. The Smiths did not notify the Giants or NFL security about the threats.
“If someone is going to kill me, they ain’t going to call me and tell me,” Smith Jr. said.
Smith, who signed a one-year with the Giants this past offseason, had to contend with vitriol some of the fans after he was named the starter in place of Manning.
“I think my dad handled it well,” Smith said. “He kind of just hung up the phone. It’s just kind of shameful that would be happening because of someone doing their job. When he told me that, I was like, ‘What?’ But you kind of get a sense of comfortability from him. He was like, ‘Man, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. Just do your thing, play your game.’ So, I was able to be easy with it.”
The vitriol Smith received was not lost on his teammates.
“I feel bad for Geno, too,” offensive lineman Justin Pugh said earlier in the week. “He didn’t ask to get put in the situation, and a lot of disrespect and hate were thrown his way, and it’s just uncalled for. I get everyone wants to support Eli, but by supporting one man to put another man down is just not the way to do it.
“At the end of the day, things in the building and the competition will work itself out, and obviously Eli is at quarterback. Obviously, he’s been [my] only quarterback, and I’ve obviously supported him throughout. I just hate to see everyone bash another guy for a coach making a decision to put him in the game.”
Smith went 21-of-36 for 212 yards, one touchdown, and two lost fumbles. Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo re-installed Manning as the starter for Sunday’s divisional game against the Dallas Cowboys, sending Smith back to his familiar role of understudy. Spagnuolo said earlier in the week that Smith didn’t like the demotion, but was professional about the situation.
“I wasn’t,” Smith said. “Any competitor wouldn’t be. To be put in that situation where you get a chance to play, and then you’re being pulled, but it’s not because you played bad, so you try to figure out why. But you got to understand that some things happen in this business, and you just got to roll with it.”