Tuesday October 3, 2023

Sauce Gardner: Jets Vibe Changed Under Aaron Rodgers

  • New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner said his second year with the team already feels different due to Aaron Rodgers' presence.
  • Gardner is coming off a rookie season that saw him win the Defensive Rookie of the Year award.
New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner, left, and quarterback Aaron Rodgers perform their handshake before a preseason NFL game at MetLife Stadium on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in East Rutherford.
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New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner hasn’t played a regular-season NFL game with Aaron Rodgers as the team quarterback yet, but he can already feel the difference.

“There’s a lot more confidence,” he said on Front Office Sports Today. “There’s even more of a competitive spirit.”

Rodgers is best known for his on-field heroics and his quirky personality – he touts the healing power of ayahuasca ceremonies and selected the Jets as the team he wanted to be traded to after emerging from a darkness retreat. Gardner, however, emphasized Rodgers’ strength as a teammate.

“He’s one of those guys where every day he’s sitting at a different table at the cafeteria, getting to know his teammates even more. Little stuff like that just raises the standard, because if he can do it, everybody else can do it.”

Sauce Gardner’s interview begins at 9:45, with the Rodgers discussion starting at 11:07:

The star quarterback has brought added attention to the Jets, who already live under a microscope as a New York-based NFL team. That made the club an easy choice for the next season of HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” which follows one team each season. The Jets happened to be among the few teams contractually obligated to welcome HBO’s cameras. Gardner, however, doesn’t see them as an intrusion.

“Coach [Robert] Saleh might have called it a distraction before it happened, but the way he’s seen [us] handle it, I’m sure he’s alright with it now.”

The reigning Defensive Rookie of the Year seems to enjoy the spotlight. During the offseason, while taking a break from finishing his undergrad degree, Gardner teamed up with Buffalo Wild Wings for a stunt where he posed as a waiter — toying with customers by eating their food and dumping his signature “Sauce Sauce” on their dishes before revealing his true identity.

“I had a great time,” he said. “There were a lot of Jets fans there.”

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