Sports | August 31, 2022 6:20 am

Swaggy Jets Rookie Corner Sauce Gardner Is Ready to Cover New York

The fourth overall pick should have a huge role for a defense that finished dead last in yards and points allowed last season

New York Jets rookie Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner.
Rookie Ahmad "Sauce" Gardner should get on the field immediately for the Jets.
Buffalo Wild Wings

Originally given the nickname “A1 Sauce Sweet Feet Gardner” by a youth football coach who found him to be “saucy with the juke moves” while playing running back, Ahmad Gardner ended up playing more predominantly as a defensive back and eventually saw his nickname shortened to simply “Sauce.”

Selected fourth overall out of Cincinnati by the Jets in the NFL Draft in April and named as one of New York’s two starting cornerbacks by head coach Robert Saleh following the team’s preseason finale against the New York Giants over the weekend, Gardner should have a huge role for a rebuilding defense that finished dead last in yards and points allowed last season.

Gardner, whose new sweet-and-spicy Sauce Sauce is now available at Buffalo Wild Wings locations nationwide, may have been named a starter for Gang Green, but none of his teammates are using his nickname…yet.

The treatment should be familiar to Gardner, who finished his three-year career with the Bearcats with nine interceptions and 16 passes defended, as it was the same route his college coaches and upper-class teammates took until he took a pick-six to the house in an upset win against Central Florida as a freshman during the second game of his NCAA career. Speaking with InsideHook, Gardner reveals he doesn’t think his nickname will be on the sidelines for too long once the NFL’s regular season starts next week.

“They wouldn’t call me Sauce in college until I made some plays and they were not talking about just any play. In the NFL, they wanna see some big plays too. They want interception, not pass breakups,” Gardner says. “I ain’t really been getting tried like that so I haven’t had opportunities to make plays, but that’s not an excuse. When the time comes, I’m gonna make sure I show up.”

Asked what sort of play he anticipates will result in the nickname ban being lifted, Gardner doesn’t hesitate. “I’ll probably relive my college experience,” he says. “It’ll be another pick-six and then they’re going to get to calling me Sauce. Ain’t no need to rush it, but they will start calling me Sauce soon. It’s all good.”

Coupled with his competent play on the field during limited preseason action, it’s that sort of easy confidence that has quickly endeared Gardner to fans and media members in New York as well as his teammates and the Jets coaching staff. “I’ve seen it since day one for sure. I feel like my nickname and the way I carry myself are a perfect fit for New York,” he says. “The media, the fans, everybody in New York loves me. The way I carry myself and the swag I have are perfect for New York. I wouldn’t wanna be anywhere else.”

Since Gardner’s arrival in New York, fans have been anticipating that Sauce would have a sauce bearing his name. Now, thanks to the Detroit native’s partnership with Buffalo Wild Wings, that assumption has become a reality. To cement it, the 21-year-old will be signing autographs in his signature BBQ sauce at Buffalo Wild Wings in Wayne, New Jersey, on September 1. “I get chills thinking about it,” he says. “The first autographs I’m signing in sauce. That’s perfect, man. I can’t wait.”

So what instrument will Gardner be using to do the actual sauce signing? “Something different,” he says. “A special sauce pen. That sounds perfect. Sauce pen. I don’t know if I want to use my finger. I don’t know about that.”

Spoken like a true New Yorker.