“Find me a better gunner in this league than that guy, then I’d like to see it because I don’t think there is one.”
Each week, the New York Jets highlight one of the team’s greatest leaders on “Teammate Tuesday”. This week, the man of the hour is special teams ace Justin Hardee.
This week's #TeammateTuesday is #Jets CB @jhardee_19 #ProBowlVote pic.twitter.com/441Xc1a82y
— NYJ Communications (@NYJetsPR) December 13, 2022
Hardee is a special teams superstar who deserves to earn his first Pro Bowl nod this year. Officially, most statistical outlets are crediting Hardee with 13 special teams tackles, which ties him for the second-most in the NFL, although Jets special teams coordinator Brant Boyer credited him with 14 in a recent press conference.
Boyer raved about Hardee’s elite-level talent as a special teams player, specifically citing the enormous amount of respect that other teams show him through their game plan.
“If you went and talked to any other coach that we play, you would have to ask them like, ‘How would you defend this guy?’ And they double him, they try to triple him at times, and he still has 14 tackles, he has two forced fumbles. He’s got a fumble recovery, and then he’s got what we call forced tackles, I think he’s got nine of those and that’s being doubled and tripled half the time, rarely will he get a single and I think that speaks to the kind of player that he is.”
Boyer even went on to say that Hardee is the best at what he does.
“I’d say it too, you can find me a better gunner in this league than that guy, then I’d like to see it because I don’t think there is one. I think he is a special dude.”
Head coach Robert Saleh spoke at length about Hardee’s tremendous impact off the field.
“Oh man, he’s a really cool person,” Saleh said of Hardee. “Outside of football, he’s a tremendous family man, great heart. He is the epitome of all gas in the way he plays and strains. The words that come out of his mouth, we just love having him around.”
Saleh explained that Hardee is an amazing example for young players on the team.
“Any young man who comes into this league and is trying to find their path, look no further than him. The way he approaches every day – an undrafted guy. He came in as a receiver, moves to corner, finds his way on special teams. He is the one you cheer for because he does it the right way.”
It often goes overlooked that Hardee also stars as a blocker for the kick return units. He has thrown key blocks on many of Braxton Berrios‘s best returns over the past two seasons.
Berrios is appreciative of the experience and knowledge that Hardee brings to the special teams unit.
“He’s huge, he’s one of the leaders in that special teams room,” Berrios said. “His experience, he takes pride in what he does, and you love to see that. He steps up, he’s vocal about what he has seen in his past and spreads some knowledge to these young guys, he has really been a cornerstone of that special teams.”
With his production on the field and his leadership off of it, Justin Hardee is a star for the Jets. He deserves to be named a Pro Bowler this year – and it’s time for Jets fans to rally behind him.
Jets fans can vote for Hardee to make the 2023 Pro Bowl Games at this link.