While there has been a recent trend of players forgoing the Pro Bowl after their first appearance, that was not the case for the Jets' two-time Pro Bowlers DL Quinnen Williams and CB Sauce Gardner this winter. The Green & White's dynamic defender duo, joined by first-time honoree Jermaine Johnson, made their way to Orlando last week for the 2024 Pro Bowl Games and soaked up the experience of playing with and working alongside the league's best.
"It is a blessing to be out here with these guys," Gardner said. "There are a lot of really great and elite players playing now and that played in the past. It is always a blessing to have this experience."
Williams added: "Year in and year out, you just work your tail off to win football games and do what you've got to do, so none of these accolades come to mind throughout the whole year because all you want to do is put your hard work in to help your team win football games. To be able to get recognized for my hard work is super dope."
Gardner and Williams became the first pair of Jets teammates to make consecutive Pro Bowls over the same two-year stretch since Jets Ring of Honor members C Nick Mangold, LT D'Brickashaw Ferguson and CB Darrelle Revis made it in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
The Jets elite CB, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie when the event was in Las Vegas, became the second player in franchise history to earn the nod in his first two seasons, joining S Erik McMillan who made the Pro Bowl in 1988 and 1989.
"It is a different vibe from last year," Gardner said "I haven't been outside much recently unless it has been for something football related. I have been in the house just doing the same old, same old. But now we are in a different state. I am used to the cold, but this is a great change up for me."
Gardner participated in "Epic Dodgeball", practiced with CBs Denzel Ward (Cleveland), Patrick Surtain II (Denver) and Jalen Ramsey (Miami) and took the opportunity to compare notes with some of the NFL's elite. Then he showed why he's one of the league's top DBs in his own right, recording an interception and pass breakup on a ball intended for Cowboys WR CeeDee Lamb in the AFC vs. NFC flag football game.
"I am always picking others player's brains," Gardner said. "We have got an incredibly good group of guys, so being able to be out here with those elite guys is a blessing. We are always talking to each other and to take advantage."
As for Williams, he ran a leg in the "Gridiron Gauntlet" relay and partnered up with his fellow AFC defensive linemen for the tug of war competition. Throughout the week, Williams was mic'd up and could be heard enjoying the experience.
"It's just pretty cool, man," Williams said. "To be around a bunch of great guys, great athletes from around the world, it's pretty awesome. Can't beat it."