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Leonhard Speaks to the Press

It is conference call week in Florham Park! Bart Scott went Monday. Lito Sheppard was yesterday. Jim Leonhard stepped up to the mike today. Here are some highlights.

On why he wanted to play for Rex Ryan and the Jets...

I think, being around different coaches and different systems, obviously the system that he (Rex Ryan) has is proven and the players love it. There is not one guy who's played in that system that doesn't love it and love the freedom and the ability he gives you to make plays in that system. As far as Rex goes, he's as real of a coach as they come and he's not a "bs'er," he's going to tell you how it is. I think you guys are starting to realize that. He is going to tell you what he thinks and he isn't going to hold his tongue. He's not going to tell you what he thinks you need to hear, he's just going to tell you the truth and, as a player, I respect that. Whether you want to hear something or not, if it's the truth, for the most part you can respect it and learn from it and that's one reason why I really love playing for Rex.

On his decision to come to New York and play for the Jets...

We were very close to having everything signed and sealed and delivered out to New York when all of a sudden the Denver Broncos came out of nowhere and threw out a really big number at me. So, I took a few hours to consider (it) and we ultimately decided that regardless of the money situation, the Jets were the place to be. We kind of knew that. Like I just mentioned, we kind of knew that going into free agency that New York was probably the best place for me. Like you said, you get into the money game and it's hard some times to turn down things. Ultimately, we felt like the best football situation was to be here with Rex and this team, which I think is going to be great. I am very excited to see Rex as a head coach and to see all the talent that's already on this team. To come into that environment is very exciting for me. I can't wait and I hope everything goes well.

On if he left a little money on the table...

Yes, I did, and I am ok with that situation. I think I made the right decision to be here and I am excited to be a New York Jet. The Denver Broncos situation, like I said, was very last minute. It made us step back a second and see what was out there. It was significant enough to where we had to take a look at it. Ultimately, we decided that this was still the best situation.

On doing for Kerry Rhodes what he did for Ed Reed ...

I think I can (do that). I hope so. He has a lot of talent and this system is going to allow him to grow as a safety. He's already had a lot of success and I think this will take him to the next level and I hope to be a part of that.

Leonhard has come from very humble football roots. He was not heavily sought by colleges, let alone when he came to the NFL. It seems like he remembers where he came from and genuinely wants to be a Jet. Normally one should take "I left money on the table" from the athlete with a grain of salt. It is usually a PR move. From Leonhard, it seems genuine. He has not forgotten how Rex Ryan turned him into a player and has a real bond with the coach.

For a full transcript, click here.