Rich Cimini | ESPN.com
Smith was involved in a dispute with a flight attendant over his headphones, left the plane and was questioned by airport police at the gate, according to multiple sources.
Smith wasn’t arrested, and police didn’t file an incident report, according to Sgt. Belinda Nettles, the public information officer at Los Angeles International Airport.
The altercation was triggered when a Virgin America flight attendant asked Smith to remove his headphones, a source familiar with the situation told ESPN New York. Smith didn’t immediately respond because he didn’t hear the flight attendant, the person said.
The flight attendant unplugged Smith’s headphones and “threw them down,” telling the quarterback he was a “threat” and asking him to leave the plane, according to the source. Smith requested to speak with police, the person added.
While declining to confirm or deny that the person questioned was Smith, Nettles said police “responded to an incident on board an aircraft. The subject was questioned and released.”
Smith wasn’t removed from the plane by police and he didn’t have to be escorted out of the terminal, according to Nettles.
“Police didn’t go on the aircraft,” she said. “The subject already was at the gate [when they arrived].”
Smith was seen on a TMZ video leaving the airport on his own and then stepping into a limousine that arrived to pick him up.
It didn’t take long for the altercation to hit the Internet. Within minutes, there were photos on Twitter of Smith speaking to police officers at the gate and a video of him walking out of the terminal.
Asked about the dispute by a TMZ cameraman at the airport, a reluctant Smith, who didn’t stop for an interview, said, “Don’t believe that.”
An unnamed airport official told the New York Post that Smith sparked the dispute because he refused to stop talking on his cellphone before takeoff. The captain ordered him off the plane, and Virgin America refused to rebook him, the official told the newspaper.
“We are aware of the [Internet] report and are researching the facts,” a Jets team spokesman said. “We will have no comment at this time.”
Publicist Ron Berkowitz of Roc Nation, which represents Smith, also declined to comment.
It capped an embarrassing day for the Jets. In the morning, ESPN.com and NJ.com reported details of tight end’s Kellen Winslow November arrest. Winslow was charged for possession of synthetic marijuana and was accused of masturbating in his car by an unidentified woman, who called police. Once at the scene, police noticed the marijuana in the car. The formal charges were filed a month later, when lab results revealed a controlled substance — Fubinaca — in the marijuana.
- Longtime Jets beat writer for New York Daily News
- Syracuse University graduate