Twenty-three years after retiring from the NFL, a defensive lineman is still coming after former Cowboys quarterback Troy Aikman.
Jets defensive tackle Quinnen Williams took a moment at the end of a midweek press conference to add a comment of his own, a direct response to something Aikman had said on-air during the Jets’ 27-6 loss to the Chargers on ESPN’s Monday Night Football earlier in the week.
During a quick montage highlighting the play of Williams, Aikman spoke about the third overall draft pick from 2019 having just half a sack credited to him this season. Aikman ended the reel by stating, “Quinnen Williams, he keeps telling [head coach] Robert Saleh and [defensive coordinator] Jeff Ulbrich that they’ve got to come up with some ways to give him single opportunities so he can get some sacks. He says he’s the highest-paid decoy in football.”
Williams addressed the moment with reporters on Wednesday:
“Can I say something real quick? I seen something, like Troy Aikman said that I said something about being a decoy. I never said that. I never talked to Troy Aikman, I never said that to Troy Aikman. I don’t know where he got that from. It never came out of my mouth that I was ‘the highest-paid decoy’ or something like that he said. On Monday night or something like that? I never said that. I never talked to him before the game. I never alluded to that. It’s never been out of my mouth. I never had a conversation with him at all, so to hear him say that I said that is kind of like upsetting, that he would lie on me like that or say that I said that. That’s kind of weird to me. It was definitely misleading.”
Saleh also responded– at least to the sentiment behind Aikman’s comment- while speaking to reporters on Wednesday.
“We’re always trying to find a way to create one-on-ones for all our guys, Quinnen especially. He’s one of the better players in football. I do want to say, I do think sack production is a very overrated stat. I think it’s a cool stat that gets guys paid, but it is not the indicative number,” the coach said.
“What we’ve seen is a much different approach to the way teams protect against us. And we’re seeing a lot less double-chippers and lot more attention to Quinnen, which means Jermaine Johnson, Bryce Huff, [and others] are absolutely wreaking havoc on quarterbacks this year and opening it up. So teams have to pick their poison. You want to pay attention to Quinnen? Our other guys are going to be productive…”
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Aikman and Saleh are making essentially the same point about Williams, who is playing on a four-year, $96 million contract with $66 million in guarantees. The extra attention he gets from opposing offenses is creating opportunities for his defensive teammates, while keeping his own sack numbers low.
But Saleh certainly isn’t using him as “a decoy,” and Williams says he never said that.
Despite what Aikman said on national television.