I think I am on Jihad Ward’s side. Maybe the New York Giants LB shouldn’t have placed his hands on New York Jets QB Aaron Rodgers at the end of a play when the ball was long gone. Two wrongs don’t make a right, and going after a person — who was minding his own business when the original wrong occurred — is certainly not the best way to seek redress. All of that being said, Ward was absolutely in the right to take offense to Randall Cobb laying out one of his teammates in a preseason game, and on a play that the 12-year vet knew was wrong.
Cobb was drafted in 2011, around the same time that the NFL vigorously cracked down on blows to the head. In 2019, the league instituted a personal foul penalty for “blindside blocks.” Those blocks are defined as any time a player makes a block while “moving toward or parallel to his own end line.” In a preseason game between the New York Jets and New York Giants, for some ridiculous reason, Cobb decided to de-cleat Bobby McCain and the defensive back ended up in concussion protocol.
That play is a textbook example of what the NFL wants out of the game. Cobb wasn’t even next to the wide receiver who caught the ball. This was no reflex, he loaded up and made a B-line straight for McCain. What Cobb did in a regular-season game could be considered a dirty play, so in the preseason it is worth at least some furrowed brows, sideways glances, and heated tempers.
Ward told the media after practice on Wednesday that play was why he got chippy with Rodgers. He saw Cobb, Rodgers, and the rest of the team laughing about what happened and said their behavior was that of a “sucker.” During the broadcast of the game, as the referee was announcing the penalty, Ward can be heard saying that he was not in the mood to leave the field at any point for the rest of the drive.
“Everybody going to get pissed off at that. The whole team was pissed off, you know what I’m saying?” Ward told the media. “It’s preseason and all that stuff and you’re going to do some reaction like that?
Sucker is too strong of a word for me to use in this instance. However, taking a shot like that in the preseason is ridiculous. McCain did not return to the field after that play. Cobb should have shown some immediate remorse. These players know the risks on the field and need to not load up on illegal preseason hits.
Ward expressed his anger at the wrong person though. Of course, Rodgers is closer in proximity to him on the field, but for Ward to hold onto that anger all drive he could have found Cobb. Maybe Rodgers shouldn’t have found the situation so humorous, but he didn’t do anything to anybody.
His buddy though? He was out of line. Ward had every reason to take that to heart. The play was out of line. Football players are tough and supposedly used to that kind of violence, but they also do expect professional courtesy.
I believe that the likely fine money should go to McCain, but I’m positive that is against NFL policy. A Google search of “Randall Cobb apologize,” returns a most recent result of him feeling bad for ruining a fan’s hot dog during a Lambeau Leap. A sincere “I was wrong,” would be a nice gesture.