The Lions paid Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner the ultimate compliment twice in 2022.
During an interview on “The Pivot Podcast,” the standout Jets cornerback revealed that he did not want to get drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft, partly because of what playing in his home state might mean for his career.
“They don’t even really ask me for nothing,” Gardner said of his closest friends.
“My family don’t really ask me nothing, especially the ones who weren’t around when I was down — when me, mom, my brother and my sister were going through it. The ones who weren’t down with us, they don’t ask me for nothing because they already know the answer.”
“That’s one reason why I didn’t want to get drafted by Detroit. That would’ve been a total different story,” he continued.
“I would’ve had so many different people asking for tickets. People probably would’ve seen me around Detroit then they would’ve been trying to hangout, then they would’ve been trying to ask me for money, this, this and that. There’s so many variables that go into it, that’s why I’m happy I’m at where I’m at right now.
Gardner was drafted by the Jets fourth overall while the Lions picked defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the No. 2 overall pick.
The second time they complimented him was when the two teams faced off in the season and the Lions never targeted his side of the field once. Despite them showing him so much respect, Gardner was not happy being taken out of the game like that.
“I wasn’t targeted yesterday, not once,” Gardner said. “I don’t know what their mentality is or mindset is when they go up against us, but yesterday, I wasn’t targeted. I take that kind of personally because I actually wanted to make a bigger and a better impact on the game, especially going against my hometown team. . . . I didn’t get targeted so I didn’t get that opportunity.”
Gardner said he recognizes that the Lions were showing him respect, but he badly wanted them to test him.
“Definitely it is a huge sign of respect, but if I catch the ball and I get a pick-six I could put points on the board, or catch an interception and flip the field, something to get us some points,” Gardner said.
Gardner was named 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie corner to make first-team honors since Ronnie Lott. He did not allow a single touchdown all year.
The Jets’ pass defense was elite in 2022, as they allowed just 189.4 passing yards per game, which ranked third in the NFL.
The No. 4 overall pick out of Cincinnati recorded 75 combined tackles, two interceptions, and a league-leading 20 passes defensed this season.
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