HOW THE JETS PLAYERS PERFORMED IN THE PRO BOWL GAMES
Author: Ethan Greenberg
The Jets had four representatives at the 2023 Pro Bowl Games in Las Vegas – rookie CB Sauce Gardner, LB C.J. Mosley, DT Quinnen Williams and ST Justin Hardee -- who participated in different events throughout the week in the NFL's new format, which does not include a game in pads. Here are three takeaways from the week.
Rookie(s) and the Vet
Three of the four Jets experienced their first Pro Bowl, with Mosley being the lone returnee.
Williams' favourite part was putting film to faces, meeting teammates for the week that he admires, like Steelers DT Cameron Heyward and Raiders DE Maxx Crosby.
Making the Pro Bowl was one of Gardner's three rookie goals. The other two were making first-team All-Pro (check) and being named Defensive Rookie of the Year, which could happen Thursday in Arizona at NFL Honors. Gardner was one of two rookies to earn Pro Bowl selections (Seahawks CB Tariq Woolen).
Mosley's favourite moment of his fifth Pro Bowl happened behind the scenes with Peyton Manning, who coached the AFC.
"I played against him and my first time meeting him we were in Denver," Mosley said. "My second time meeting him again was here. I introduced myself again, he knew who I was. But the cool thing is his daughter is named Mosley. She's a big fan of mine. He wanted me to take a picture with him. I was like, 'Me? I made a couple plays, but you're Peyton Manning.' That was really cool.
"And it's my son's first time out here, our first Pro Bowl together. He got to see some of his favorite players, got a couple autographs signed. He's been full of energy the whole time he's been out here."
Hardee Excels in Flag Football
Everyone except Williams played in the Flag Football event on Sunday at Allegiant Stadium.
Mosley, who had 158 tackles in the regular season, led the AFC with 6 stops while Gardner had 3. Hardee checked into the second of three flag football games and registered a sack and a pass defense in an AFC victory.
"That was my first career sack," said Hardee, a converted wide receiver. "That was my first defensive snaps all season, I haven't played a lick of defense. But as you can see, I can do a little something."
Williams added: "I think he was balling. Honestly, he was just being himself, having fun and doing what he does. … I'm just happy to see my brothers from the Jets here, balling and having fun."
Hardee played with a heavy heart as his first Pro Bowl Games fell on his late mother's birthday. Hardee, who turns 29 in two days, considered it an early birthday gift.
"To have my first Pro Bowl on her birthday, I felt like it was a gift from her and God, honestly," he said. … "I'll be back."
Even though there was no contact, the intensity of the new format remained high.
"It was super competitive," Williams said. "Each and everybody on the field coming up with different strategies, different techniques and stuff like that, working hard with each other. It's just dope to see everybody work hard from different teams, different opponents, different divisions."
Big Hitter on the Field and on the Course
Mosley was the Jets player who participated in Thursday's skills competition and was one of the AFC representatives in the Longest Drive contest. Mosley, a southpaw, drove the ball 306 yards on his second attempt and gave the AFC the lead.
"I'm not going to lie, after the first shot, my hand was a little shaky putting the tee and the ball down because the guys started heckling a little bit in the back," he said. "I said alright, let me just get one good hit and I'll be good."
He added: "I've been golfing a few times and I've hit a couple of drives before, but I've never measured how far I hit. They told me 306 and I was pretty shocked. They asked me before what they thought I was going to hit, I thought maybe 100 or 200."
Gardner participated in Thursday's Dodgeball event while Hardee and Williams did the Water Balloon Toss.