With the New York Jets' season still more than a week away, Aaron Rodgers is fighting a different sort of battle.
The four-time MVP quarterback fired the latest salvo in a developing feud between himself and the New York Giants on Thursday, taking exception to Giants linebacker Jihad Ward's claim that Rodgers and his teammates laughed at an injured player.
From ESPN's Rich Cimini:
"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."
The feud began during a Jets-Giants preseason game on Aug. 26, when Ward and Rodgers exchanged shoves at the end of the play, leading to a confrontation captured on HBO's "Hard Knocks." Much was said, but the line that hit hardest was Rodgers saying "I don't even know who you are bro."
Ward has played in the NFL since 2016 with six different teams and recorded a career-high 43 tackles and three sacks last season with the Giants.
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) August 30, 2023
Ward delivered his side of the story on Wednesday, one day after his run-in with the Rodgers started circulating on social media. The 29-year-old said he was angry because of an illegal block by Jets wide receiver Randall Cobb that left Giants safety Bobby McCain with a concussion.
Ward claimed he saw the Jets huddle laughing about the play afterward. "Hard Knocks" captured that interaction as well, showing Rodgers lightly chastising Cobb for the hit. Rodgers joked Cobb just lost all of his training camp money and noted it wasn't 2014 anymore.
— Brendan (@jetfella) August 29, 2023
Ward might not have known what was said in that huddle, but he said all of the Giants were angered by the play, via ESPN:
"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."
Given that the "Hard Knocks" video somewhat shows Ward wasn't just "making s*** up," Rodgers' past complaints about the Jets being mandated into the show have become even more entertaining in hindsight.
Rodgers also jokingly called Metlife Stadium, the home of both teams, "Jetlife Stadium" on "Hard Knocks," which the Giants definitely noticed if this comment from wide receiver Sterling Shepard is any evidence:
“That’s what he called it? Jet Life Stadium? If that’s how he feels then that’s cool. I don’t feel that way. Obviously. I feel like when we step on the turf that’s our home, we want to protect it.”
The Jets and Giants will meet again on Oct. 29, so we'll see if that animus can last another couple of months.