On Monday, Gardner shared video that shows the alleged incident. The video shows Gardner, a New York Jets cornerback, shoving Jones after Jones emerges from the middle of a scrum following a quarterback sneak during Sunday's game between the AFC East rivals. Gardner continues to pursue Jones as an official intervenes and Jones walks away from the situation.
Posting this so I don’t get fined lol pic.twitter.com/2KjcAVTNsW
— SAUCE GARDNER (@iamSauceGardner) September 25, 2023
Later Monday, The Athletic's Dianna Russini shared video from a league source with a zoomed-in few of the alleged incident. The alleged hit is mostly obscured, but Jones appears to make contact with Gardner's groin with his right hand.
Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner said after the game against the Patriots that Mac Jones hit him in the “private parts.”This video sent from a league source is a closer view. pic.twitter.com/UTayhuu6iB
— Dianna Russini (@DMRussini) September 25, 2023
Here's what Gardner had to say after Sunday's game, a 15-10 Patriots win.
"That's probably the first time that ever happened to me," Gardner told reporters. "He got tackled. He reached his hand up to try to get me to help to get him up. I just moved his hand out of the way.
"He got up and he just came up to me like 'Good job.' While he was saying that, he hit me in my private parts. I didn't react like I really wanted to. ... I definitely wasn't expecting that. First time for everything I guess."
Gardner then joked that Jones was threatening his prospects as a future father.
Sauce Gardner says he had to ice up after Mac Jones' hit:
"He's trying to stop me from having kids in the future" 😭 pic.twitter.com/B1WvKk1UVI
— Jets Videos (@snyjets) September 24, 2023
"I do gotta ice up," Gardner continued. "He's trying to stop me from having kids in the future."
Jones denies accusation
Jones was asked about Gardner's accusation. He denied hitting him below the belt while changing the subject to the physical nature of running a quarterback sneak.
“No," Jones said when asked if he thought he did anything wrong on the play. "I think just trying to get the first down. 3rd-and-1, and then we came back on 4th-and-1 and tried to fake it. Definitely a physical play. Lot of guys are in there.
"It’s kind of like the famous quarterback sneak that everybody does. All the guys on both teams are in there. It can get pretty physical. That's something that I have to learn from is getting my pads a little lower so I can get it and not get held up."
Jones faced further questioning Monday and denied intentionally hitting Gardner.
"On that play, nothing was intentional," Jones told WEEI "I just got up and went back to the huddle, and that’s it."
Previous accusations toward Jones
This is not the first time that Jones has been accused of dirty play. In 2022, Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple accused Jones of "dirty play" after Jones dove at his feet during an interception return by linebacker Germaine Pratt.
What is Mac Jones doing here? 🧐pic.twitter.com/Rjgf8AHY20
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 25, 2022
“He tripped me,” Apple told reporters. “I thought it was a dirty play. He’s done that before. I’ve seen it.”
Jones was asked by WEEI about his reputation as a dirty player on Monday.
“Like I said, I can’t control that stuff," Jones said. "I try to be really competitive and go out there and be a good teammate and compete, and come to work every day and work hard and put a lot of hours into it. I definitely care about football a lot and this game means a lot to me and it means a lot a lot of other guys that I play with so I hope that they can see that.”
The NFL ultimately fined Jones for the low hit on Apple and a separate unnecessary roughness penalty in the same game. The league has not publicly addressed Gardner's accusations toward Jones from Sunday.