The NFL world was treated to an unexpected off-season Twitter war that erupted among Sauce Gardner, Darrelle Revis, and Asante Samuel, just prior to the start of training camp.
The saga was sparked by an ESPN survey by Jeremy Fowler, which placed Gardner second among NFL cornerbacks. Samuel, a decade-long veteran with a single First-Team All-Pro honor to his name, expressed his discontent with this ranking.
“Hype from New York can skyrocket your career,” Samuel tweeted, insinuating Gardner‘s ranking was boosted by media attention.
Gardner wasted no time in responding, justifying his place in the poll. “The ranking is from PLAYERS, EXECUTIVES, SCOUTS, & COACHES… I can’t understand why you’re hung up on NY Media,” he fired back on Twitter.
Samuel, a four-time Pro Bowler, added that New York’s media treatment had similarly benefited Darrelle Revis. Revis, a seven-time Pro Bowl participant and an imminent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee, quickly joined the spat.
“Stop disparaging the young up-and-comers at cornerback,” Revis rebuked Samuel on Twitter. “Reserve your anger for the voters who never saw you as a shutdown player.”
Samuel kept the pot boiling, further challenging Gardner with a new tweet. “You have the strongest media backing just like old Pro Bowl voting,” he pointed out. “I dare you to convert more pass breakups into interceptions this year. You’ll be hearing from me.”
Revis shared a story about a strategy former Jets head coach Rex Ryan had devised for Samuel, which further heated the argument. He recalled Ryan’s advice to his receivers to consistently trick Samuel with double moves, earning him the nickname “DOUBLE MOVE KING” among the team.
In response to Samuel’s claim that Revis had also been duped by double moves frequently, the Jets’ hit back. “Try again, buddy. I’m a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” Revis snapped.
In the meantime, Gardner, who has performed impressively in one of the most prominent sports cities in the world, marked his rookie year with four interceptions and a league-best 20 pass deflections. He earned the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year honor and was named a First-Team All-Pro.
“And I’m pushing myself to do the same. Along with my coaches,” Gardner countered Samuel’s challenge. “I don’t need you ‘challenging’ me after all these public tweets when you could have approached me privately like other veterans. Peace, bro.”
Samuel, who retired in 2013 after an 11-season-long career, is a decade out of the game. His son, Asante Samuel Jr., currently plays cornerback for the Los Angeles Chargers.