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Jets' Sauce: Mecole Hardman 'Never Earned His Stripes!'

New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner fired back at the recent criticisms made about the organization by free agent receiver, and ex-Jet, Mecole Hardman.

As the old saying goes, there appears to be "no love lost" between New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner and free agent receiver Mecole Hardman

Just months removed from sharing a locker room at MetLife Stadium, New York's prolific cornerback and the ex-Jet turned Super Bowl champion have engaged in quite the war of words

To his credit, Gardner sought to set the record straight on Tuesday by addressing the "white elephant" in the room regarding the acrimonious end of Hardman's brief tenure with Gang Green -- ultimately ending with the latter's trade to the Kansas City Chiefs, with whom he played from 2019-2022.



Appearing on "The Pivot," hosted by Ryan Clark, Gardner said Hardman "never earned his stripes" as a member of the Jets, while painting his former teammate as "ungrateful." 

“When I met Mecole … the first thing I thought is he talks a lot," Gardner said. “He came into the facility and just thought he had it made. If you know what it takes to win, you’re not going to go to practice and drop punts and then have excuses as to why you dropped them. You’re not going to go in a special teams meeting and get cussed out by a special teams coordinator. Certain things are not going to happen if you know what it takes to win.”

The tension between both sides appeared to approach its breaking point approximately two weeks earlier, when Hardman was a guest on "The Pivot." During the appearance, he strongly criticized the Jets' coaching staff, while dispatching an image of both the culture and the organization as "dysfunctional."

In fact, Hardman's dissatisfaction was so strong that he nearly "begged" his former team in Kansas City to "come get" him during the season. Much to his satisfaction, the Jets and Chiefs reached an agreement in October on a trade which sent him back to the Midwest. Hardman caught the game-winning touchdown in overtime of Super Bowl LVIII, sealing the Chiefs' 25–22 win over the San Francisco 49ers and earning his third Super Bowl title.

While Gardner acknowledged that "some good" can be taken from Hardman's critique, the two-time All Pro remains steadfast that his ex-teammate crossed the line in airing his grievances in such a public manner. 

"You can't really discredit the Jets, especially him individually," Gardner said of Hardman. "They sent you back to a contender team. They sent you back to the Chiefs, and you won the Super Bowl. I feel like that's ungrateful. I feel like he shouldn't have gone on there, talking about the Jets, because he could've just taken the high road. You just won the Super Bowl, and you had the game-winning catch."

Hardman is set to officially become a free agent at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday at the start of the new NFL year. 

It is safe to say neither the Jets, nor Hardman are expected to have any mutual interest in a reunion.