Some New England Patriots fans might be willing to give Mac Jones the benefit of the doubt. His NFL opponents? Not so much.
New York Jets cornerback Sauce Gardner brought the "Is Mac Jones a dirty player?" conversation back into the spotlight Sunday when he accused the Patriots quarterback of hitting him in his "private parts" after a QB sneak. Gardner even posted a video of the incident on social media, and while it's difficult to make out what happened in the grainy footage, the NFL reportedly is looking into Gardner's allegations.
Meanwhile, several NFL players responded to Gardner's post on X by criticizing Jones, who has developed somewhat of a reputation after a pair of incidents in 2021 and 2022 that his opponents viewed as dirty.
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One of those incidents involved Chicago Bears safety Jaquan Brisker, who claimed Jones intentionally kicked him in the groin area while sliding to the turf during the teams' Week 7 matchup last season. So, Brisker wasn't surprised by Jones' alleged actions Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Patrick Queen also accused Jones of crossing the line with his trash talk during their Week 3 game last season and had a similar reaction as Brisker.
Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Darius Slay joined the Mac-bashing party as well, quoting Gardner's post with the comment, "He stay doin' dirty s---!!"
Even a pair of ex-NFL players piled on Jones: Former NFL defensive end Chris Long (who won a Super Bowl with the Patriots in 2016) called Jones a "Top 5 Dirtiest QB of all time," while retired New York Giants kicker Lawrence Tynes labeled Jones a "repeat offender" who should be fined for Sunday's incident.
Jones insisted both after the game Sunday and in a radio interview Monday that he did no wrong, claiming there was "nothing there."
"Sauce is one of the best corners in the NFL. I have a lot of respect for him," Jones told WEEI's "Jones & Mego" on Monday. "On that play, nothing was intentional. I just got up and went back to the huddle, and that’s it."
But regardless of whether you think Jones is guilty in this instance, it's clear that the third-year QB carries a certain reputation among his peers -- especially among NFL defenders, who typically aren't friendly with opposing signal-callers.
Jones will have his work cut out for him this Sunday when he faces Micah Parsons and the Dallas Cowboys, who are tied for second in the NFL with 12 sacks through three games.