Willow Gardner was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, but the star cornerback for the New York Jets never wanted to play for the Lions.
During an interview on «The Pivot Podcast» last week, Gardner revealed that he did not want to be drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 2022 NFL Draft, in part because of what playing in his home state could mean for his career.
«They don’t even ask me for anything,» Gardner said of his closest friends after being asked how he handles wanting to help friends and family after turning pro.
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«My family doesn’t really ask me anything, especially the ones who weren’t there when I was depressed, when I, my mom, my brother and my sister were going through it. Those who weren’t with us, they didn’t ask me for anything because they already They know the answer.»
«That’s one of the reasons I didn’t want to be drafted by Detroit. That would have been a totally different story,» he continued.
«I would have had so many different people asking for tickets. People probably would have seen me in Detroit, then they would have been trying to hang out, then they would have been trying to ask me for money, this, this and There are so many variables that go into it, which is why I’m happy to be where I am now.
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Gardner was selected by the Jets with the fourth overall pick, while the Lions selected defensive end Aidan Hutchinson with the second overall pick.
But Lions coach Dan Campbell said in December that Detroit was never inclined to take Gardner with the second pick.
«We thought about a lot of different guys, but I never really felt like it was for (GM) Brad (Holmes) and me,» Campbell said, via the Detroit Free Press.
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«He’s a great football player, and we loved his length, we thought he was quite smart and cunning. He was aggressive, he runs quite well… but he fits perfectly into that defence. I mean, he’d fit perfectly into almost any defence. But it’s really grown. It’s really grown. It’s become a pretty good corner.»
Garnder was named the 2022 Defensive Rookie of the Year and became the first rookie cornerback to achieve first-team honors since Ronnie Lott did so as a member of the team. san francisco 49ers in 1981.
He also did not allow a touchdown all season, reflecting on his college career in Cincinnati.
Fox News’ Scott Thompson contributed to this report.