New York Giants defensive end Jihad Ward expressed his dissatisfaction with how his encounter with New York Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers was depicted on “Hard Knocks.” He clarified that his actions were driven by his strong disapproval of an illegal block executed by Jets wide receiver Randall Cobb against Giants safety Bobby McCain, resulting in a concussion. Ward also highlighted the Jets’ overall response to the incident.
The “Hard Knocks” episode displayed Jets players sharing laughs in the huddle after Rodgers called out Cobb for the blindside block. Ward voiced his frustration, stating, “It’s natural for anyone to be upset in such a situation. The entire team was genuinely agitated by it. It’s preseason, and yet such reactions took place?”
He went on, “Nonetheless, that’s their approach. We’ll be facing them soon, and that’s just how things are.”
This situation sets the stage for the rekindling of the crosstown rivalry between the Giants and Jets. This rivalry has not been as intense since the days of Rex Ryan and the Jets’ attempts to establish dominance over the city over a decade ago.
The Giants and Jets are scheduled to face off again on October 29 at MetLife Stadium. The Jets, a team with considerable preseason expectations, will be up against the Giants, a team that reached the playoffs the previous season but has remained somewhat under the local radar during the summer.
Ward stressed, “They’re aware of their actions. I understand what [Cobb] did, the coaches are aware, and my teammates know too. I’m the one standing up for [McCain].”
Notably, McCain was in the concussion protocol that week.
Ward chose to speak on Wednesday afternoon following practice. After the preseason game on Friday night, he respectfully declined to delve into the specifics of his interactions with Rodgers, awaiting Rodgers’ response.
Rodgers quipped after the game, “I even gave him a little bump. Watch for it on ‘Hard Knocks.’ Some quality content.”
During a play in the first quarter after the Cobb block, Ward lightly pushed Rodgers and exchanged words while face-to-face. After Rodgers threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Wilson on the very next play, the two engaged in conversation again.
“Hard Knocks” on Tuesday night showcased moments of Rodgers telling Ward that he wasn’t even familiar with him. Following Rodgers’ touchdown pass, he could be heard yelling, among other things, “Don’t awaken the beast!”
With seven seasons of professional experience, Ward played a significant role last season when the Giants emerged victorious against Rodgers and his former team, the Green Bay Packers, in London. He didn’t appear pleased with how the scene was edited for the TV show.
Ward noted, “The thing is, they’re here to entertain. They’ll highlight his side—HBO, the whole ‘Hard Knocks’ thing. They’ll highlight his perspective. They weren’t even part of the entire scenario that unfolded. They’ll showcase his version of events. … Ultimately, it revolves around Aaron Rodgers. They signed him, and that’s that. They’ll magnify his role and make me appear less credible. But I won’t accept that.”
Regarding his side of the story, Ward emphasized, “My side is that I won’t allow any of my teammates to be pushed around like that. I’ll stand up for my teammates.”
On “Hard Knocks,” Rodgers was shown confronting Cobb about the illegal block, which sent McCain tumbling and resulted in a 15-yard penalty for the Jets. Rodgers immediately recognized the gravity of the situation.
“I couldn’t believe it. I’ve known Randall Cobb for a long time. We talk about intelligent players making smart choices on the field. I can’t fathom what was going through his mind. I watched it in slow motion, thinking, ‘No, no, not Cobby, what were you thinking?'” We shared a laugh because such plays didn’t draw penalties when we first started playing. It’s been a violation for a while. So, not the wisest move.”
He injected a bit of humor, saying, “I jokingly told him, ‘Hey, you’ve got a third child on the way. You’ve just taken money out of your pocket. You’ll have to buy [your wife] Aiyda something nice for that.'”
Aiyda, Cobb’s wife, was shown on “Hard Knocks” explaining to their two young children that their father was likely to receive a fine for his actions during the play. It’s anticipated that Cobb will discover the exact amount of the fine later in the week.