New York Giants defensive end Jihad Ward did not like the way his interaction with New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was portrayed on “Hard Knocks,” saying his actions stemmed from disgust with an illegal block by Jets wide receiver Randall Cobb that left Giants safety Bobby McCain concussed, and the Jets’ overall reaction to the situation.
“Hard Knocks” showed the Jets players laughing in the huddle after Rodgers called out Cobb for the blindside block.
“Everybody going to get pissed off at that. The whole team was pissed off, you know what I’m saying?” Ward said. “It’s preseason and all that stuff and you’re going to do some reaction like that?
“It’s cool, though. That’s how they roll. I think we play them soon, it is what it is.”
This sets the stage for the crosstown rivalry to heat up once again. It hasn’t been the same since Rex Ryan and the Jets tried to seize the city more than a decade ago.
The Giants and Jets meet again on Oct. 29 at MetLife Stadium. It’s the team with all the preseason hype, the Jets, playing against the team that made the playoffs last season but has somehow flown under the local radar this summer.
“They know what they did. I know what [Cobb] did, coaches know what he did, my teammates know what he did,” Ward said. “I’m the only one sticking up for [McCain].”
McCain was in the concussion protocol this week.
Ward waited to speak until Wednesday afternoon after practice. Following Friday night’s preseason game, he politely declined to get into specifics about his interactions with Rodgers.
He wanted to see what Rodgers said first.
“I kind of bumped him, too. Wait for ‘Hard Knocks,'” Rodgers said after the game. “Some good content.”
Ward gave Rodgers a light push at the end of a play in the first quarter on the drive after the Cobb block. The two could be seen chirping face-to-face. After Rodgers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson on the very next play, the two had words once again.
“Hard Knocks” on Tuesday night showed clips of Rodgers telling Ward that he didn’t even know who he was. After Rodgers’ touchdown pass they showed him yelling, among other things, “Don’t poke the bear!”
Ward is entering his eighth professional season and played significant snaps last season when the Giants beat Rodgers and his former team, the Green Bay Packers, in London. He didn’t seem to appreciate the way the scene was cut for the TV show.
“See, the thing is, they’re going to entertain. They’re going to show his part — HBO, whatever stuff is going on, ‘Hard Knocks.’ They’re going to show his part. They weren’t even in the whole scenario of what really went down. They’re going to show his side of the story. … It’s all about Aaron Rodgers at the [end] of the day. They sign him, it is what it is. They’re going to show his part and make me look like a sucker. But I ain’t going for that.”
What’s Ward’s side of the story?
“My side of the story is I’m not going to let none of my teammates be backed down like that,” he said. “I’m going to ride for my teammates.”
Rodgers was seen on “Hard Knocks” getting on Cobb for the illegal block, which sent McClain flying and earned the Jets a 15-yard penalty. He immediately knew it wasn’t good.
“I couldn’t believe it. I’ve been around Randall Cobb forever. We talk about smart players and doing smart things on the field. I don’t know what was in that. I was watching that in slow motion going, ‘No, no, no Cobby, what are you doing?'” Rodgers said after the game. “We were laughing because that wasn’t a penalty when we started playing. It has been a penalty for a while. So, not the smartest play.
“I said, ‘Bro, you’ve got a third kid on the way. You just took money out of your pocket. You’re going to have to buy [your wife] Aiyda something nice for that.'”
Cobb’s wife Aiyda was shown on “Hard Knocks” telling her two young children that daddy was likely to get fined for his actions on the play. It’s expected that Cobb finds out later in the week the amount of the fine.