On Monday Night Football this week, ESPN color analyst Troy Aikman referenced a conversation he said he had with New York Jets pass rusher Quinnen Williams in which Williams called himself the “highest-paid decoy” in the NFL.
More specifically, Aikman said on MNF that not only does Williams believe that about his role, but that he also has been pushing head coach Robert Saleh and defensive coordinator Jeff Ulbrich to change the scheme to free him up for sacks.
But on Wednesday while speaking with reporters, Williams denied ever saying that, and said it was “upsetting” when he heard Aikman’s comments. In fact, Williams said he never even spoke with Aikman at all.
Quinnen Williams said he never even spoke to Troy Aikman so he doesn’t know where the quote about him being the “most expensive decoy” came from. Williams said it was “upsetting” and “weird” that Aikman attributed that quote to him. #Jets
— Zack Rosenblatt (@ZackBlatt) November 8, 2023
That came after head coach Robert Saleh went out of his way to praise Williams in a press conference, calling him “one of the five best defensive players in all of football.”
Coach Saleh on looking past just sack numbers with DT Quinnen Williams' 2023 season. pic.twitter.com/aS49oAAXSN
— New York Jets (@nyjets) November 8, 2023
Expanding on the conversation around his defensive role, Williams emphasized on Wednesday that his goal is winning.
“It’s a team sport,” Williams said. “I just want to help the team win.”
Quinnen Williams on his lack of sacks this year:
— Nick Faria (@Nick_Faria1720) November 8, 2023
Aikman made no secret of his disgust for the Jets on the offensive end Monday night.
“Everybody has to be better than what we’ve watched tonight,” Aikman said.
“I’ve been in locker rooms, not many of them, when the offense is struggling and how demoralizing that can be for a defense. And for as good as this group is, for them not to get a chance to do some really special things with this team because an offense can’t score a touchdown? Pretty maddening.”
Perhaps Aikman just misattributed the comments from Williams or tried to hide the source. Maybe he did just make it up in order to continue dragging New York’s disappointing team. Broadcasting two Jets games in nine weeks would drive anyone to madness.
But of course a straight up lie is no joke. Aikman has the power to truly damage a relationship between team and player.
Williams just signed a new extension and is a franchise player in New York. If he truly had issues with the coach or a coordinator, that deserves real discussion. Not just an offhand remark that isn’t fully accurate.