Jets’ Aaron Rodgers says Giants’ Jihad Ward making stuff up


FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — The war of words between the New York Jets and New York Giants escalated Thursday, with Jets quarterback Aaron Rodgers firing back at Giants outside linebacker Jihad Ward.

“He thought we were laughing at his teammate? That never happened and I think he’s making s— up,” Rodgers said. “I don’t care.”

On Wednesday, Ward took umbrage at Rodgers and the Jets, accusing them of laughing after Randall Cobb laid out safety Bobby McCain with an illegal, blindside block that left him with a concussion in Saturday’s preseason game.

The scene was captured on HBO’s “Hard Knocks,” with Rodgers & Co. laughing in the huddle as the quarterback razzed Cobb about the penalty and the expected fine from the NFL. A miffed Ward said he retaliated minutes later with a late shove of Rodgers after he completed a pass, sparking a heated exchange between the two.

That, too, was seen on “Hard Knocks.” This is the new normal for the Jets, who have received intense media coverage since the Rodgers trade in April. It actually goes back to March, when Rodgers — the former Green Bay Packers icon — declared his intention to play for the Jets.

“We’ve had a lot of attention — before we did ‘Hard Knocks,'” Rodgers said. “Then we did ‘Hard Knocks,’ so there’s some jealousy, for sure. There’s a lot of people either jumping on the bandwagon or jumping [off] the other side.”

In a wide-ranging interview, Rodgers addressed the big expectations surrounding the team, suggesting the increased attention has been a turnoff for some outside the organization.

“Obviously, there are a lot of expectations,” said Rodgers, adding that the Jets have “a legitimate chance” to reach the Super Bowl. “A lot of people are going to be pulling for us to fall flat — the crows as [Robert] Saleh referred to them” — a reference to the coach’s opening speech in “Hard Knocks,” in which he spoke to the players about the naysayers.

“A lot of people are in our corner, too,” Rodgers said. “Which is a good thing.”

Rodgers, 39, preparing for his 19th season, said he relishes the spotlight, though he insisted he doesn’t pay attention to the “negative energy.” He said he wasn’t aware of Ward’s comments. It was only after reporters recounted Ward’s reaction that he offered his take.

The Jets and Giants meet in Week 8 on Oct. 29.

“There will be a lot of eyes on us,” Rodgers said of the season ahead. “That could be pressure to some people, that could be expectation, it could be excitement. I choose to look at it as excitement. There’s a lot of people that are going to be tuning in, a lot of people are going to be following along throughout our season. A lot of people are going to have a lot to cheer about, I think.”

Rodgers said the Jets are “really talented,” but he declined to compare them to his best Green Bay teams. Earlier in the day, general manager Joe Douglas, addressing reporters for the first time since the draft, declined to give his personal expectations for the season.

“We’re excited to be in the conversation as one of the better teams in the league, but excitement doesn’t win games,” he said. “We have a lot to prove.”

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