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A.J. Green makes his claim as NFL’s best WR, talks staying in Cincinnati

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Green has no plans to leave Cincinnati, in case you were wondering, like Stephen A. Smith. The ESPN talking head pushed Green to break free from the Bengals this week.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

2016 was a roller coaster for A.J. Green, who is probably glad the year has been over for a month now.

It began with Green having an MVP-level first half of the regular season, in which he was at or near the top of many NFL receiving categories. It looked like Green was on pace for a career-year and another shot at the playoffs, but that all came to a screeching halt in Week 11.

That’s when Green suffered a hamstring injury that would wind up costing him the rest of the season. It also led to a ‘disagreement’ with how the team handled his injury, but that’s in the past now.

Now, Green is rested up and looking forward to the 2017 season, but before that, the 2016 must conclude Sunday when the Patriots and Falcons clash in Super Bowl 51.

On Thursday, Green made the rounds on ESPN shows filming in Houston to talk about the Bengals, the upcoming Super Bowl, and how he stacks up against the NFL’s premier receivers. During his appearance with First Take, Green went with Atlanta for his pick to win it all on Sunday.

“With Julio and the way the weapons that they got, the way that Matt Ryan is playing is unbelievable, and I think there’s nobody that can matchup with them right now,” said Green.

But of course, First Take commentator Stephen A. Smith wanted to use this to continue his criticism of the Bengals, mainly for not winning a playoff game.

“It’s coming Stephen A.,” Green said of the Bengals’ elusive playoff win. He then went on to say how bad luck, untimely injuries, and just not making one more play have ultimately been the difference in Cincinnati in losses.

And when asked about how Green compares to other elite receivers like Dez Bryant, Julio Jones and Antonio Brown, he went the good ole ‘watch the film’ response.

“At the end of the day, it’s not a popularity contest,” Green said. “All you gotta do is turn on the film and watch me play every Sunday, and that speaks for itself. So I don’t get caught up in I’m No. 4 or No. 5 or who’s better than me. At the end of the day, when you look at those numbers, my numbers stack up against everyone who’s in front of me.”

After than Smith tried to test Green by asking if there could be a time when Green wants to take his talents out of Cincinnati in order to win in the playoffs and make a better name for himself.

“I don’t think that’s possible, I just signed a new contract,” Green said. To that, Smith offered to help him get out of his contract. And said multiple times, “he deserves better”. If you had any positive feelings regarding Smith, you probably won’t after watching this interview with Green.

The injury Green suffered in Week 11 cut short what could have been his best pro season. Green finishes the season with 66 receptions, 964 yards and four touchdowns. Entering Week 11, he was on pace to finish with 117 grabs for 1,713 yards and seven scores.

That would have had Green leading the league in catches and yardage, so he’s right when he says his numbers stack up against any other receiver.