New York Jets rookie quarterback Geno Smith, painted as a diva in various post-draft media reports, responded Monday to the criticism, denying he texted friends during pre-draft visits and insisting he never told ESPN he was planning to skip the second day of the draft.
"I don't worry about what people say -- my skin is pretty thick," the much-maligned Smith said in an interview with USA Today Sports. "I've never been in trouble."
Smith, projected as a possible top-10 pick, dropped to the second round, 39th overall. His nosedive became one of the big stories of the draft, and it became bigger when he fired his agents reportedly because they told him he'd be a top choice.
"No, that's not why I let them go," Smith said.
But the former West Virginia star admitted he shouldn't have listened to his agents' advice to skip the Senior Bowl. He also acknowledged that "parts of the draft experience were tough, but not all of it. With that entire process, you can see where some things went wrong."
Smith still hasn't picked a new agent.
A quarterback-needy team picking in the top 10 passed on Smith because of a poor attitude in a pre-draft interview, ESPNNewYork.com reported last week. An unnamed NFC scout said Smith was behaving like a "spoiled, pampered brat."
Previously, Yahoo! Sports reported that Smith annoyed teams by texting and checking Twitter during interviews with team officials.
"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."
Smith also took a lot of heat for initially telling ESPN that, after sitting through an agonizing first round on national TV, he wouldn't return for the second day. He claimed he never said that.
"Coming back on Day 2 was never not an option for me," Smith said.
Yet, in separate interviews on the night of the draft and the day after, he never attempted to dispute his comment to ESPN.
Smith, through a Jets spokesman, denied an interview request last Friday by ESPNNewYork.com.
He will report Friday to the Jets' rookie minicamp. He's competing with Mark Sanchez, David Garrard, Greg McElroy and Matt Simms for the starting job. Smith said he received congratulatory texts from Sanchez and Garrard. Last Thursday, Sanchez said he hadn't reached out to the rookie.
"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."