Jab at Smith’s jaw unintentional, Ford Field DJ says

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News

Sports are often taken too seriously, but one musical selection before the Lions’ exhibition game against the New York Jets kept the mood light Thursday night at Ford Field.

Just after Jets officials told reporters quarterback Geno Smith was among the inactive players for the exhibition game, the Ford Field disc jockey played the popular The Weeknd song, “Can’t Feel My Face.” Smith, of course, was punched in the face by former Jets linebacker IK Enemkpali on Tuesday, and Enemkpali broke Smith’s jaw, which will hold the quarterback out for six to 10 weeks.

As it turns out, though, the impeccable timing of the song selection was just a coincidence.

“Totally unintentional, but it’s funny how it works out some time,” said Brett Darago, also known as DJ Chachi. “It’s sad that I really can’t claim because it was kind of funny.”

Darago, a 37-year-old from Grand Blanc, said he submitted his playlist for the game two weeks ago. The popular song has been on the Billboard “Hot 100” charts the past nine weeks and is currently the top song in the United States.

Though he has to turn in a list of songs before the game — and after to say which ones he played — Darago said he didn’t make the connection between the song and Smith until someone showed him a tweet from The Detroit News that led to several stories about the incident.

“I’m a tasteful guy,” he said. “I’m not classless.”

Earlier Friday, a Lions spokesman said the timing was probably coincidental, and Darago said his seat in the seventh-floor control room at Ford Field isn’t within earshot of the main press box, where the team public-relations workers tell reporters which players are inactive.

Darago owns his own entertainment company and has been a professional DJ for 22 years. He’s worked with the Lions as a contractor for the past four years and said it’s the toughest gig he’s had because he has to constantly play songs specific to the mood of the game.

And although Darago said he wasn’t poking fun at Smith’s injury, the next time he plays a song specific for an opponent won’t be the first. In Week 5 last year, former Lions coach Jim Schwartz returned to Detroit as the Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator, and before the game, Darago played the stadium classic “Never Scared” by Bone Crusher.

During the 2013 season, Schwartz responded to criticism over a fake field goal by saying, “Don't say I'm scared because we ain't.”

“But that was different situation,” Darago said. “That wasn’t taking any jabs at anybody. Of course, I was going to play it during that game.”

The Jets cut Enemkpali immediately after the incident, and the Bills — now led by former Jets coach Rex Ryan — claimed him.

Smith was not at the game Thursday after undergoing surgery earlier in the day, according to multiple reports.