Aaron Rodgers might be out for the season after suffering a broken collarbone against the Vikings on Sunday, and his teammates aren't happy with the player and hit that might've ended his season. On Thursday, two Packers defenders -- Clay Matthews and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix -- said that Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr should've given Rodgers a "love tap" instead of a hard hit.
"Obviously I'm going to say I would've pulled off on that," Matthews said, per ESPN. "But if that was their quarterback, I think it's at the statute of limitations where you need to pull off."
Matthews, who knows a thing or two about hitting quarterbacks considering he's racked up 75 career sacks, added that Barr should've pulled up as he hit him.
"I've been hitting quarterbacks for almost a decade now and generally when you see a quarterback get rid of the ball, you're allowed to give him a shot [but] show that you pulled up on him," Matthews said. "But obviously more is going to be made out of it simply because our quarterback broke his collarbone. I'm not going to go as far as to say hits are dirty because I'm sure plenty of fans from all sorts of teams have said the same thing about me. It's unfortunate it happened, but [I was] surprised that there wasn't a flag."
Clinton-Dix, meanwhile, said that he wouldn't have dared tried to drive Rodgers into the ground because "that's understood."
"I think Barr could have gave him a love tap," Clinton-Dix said. "With me, I look at it as if it was my son playing quarterback or it was my friend that I'm going against. This is a job. We all have a job to do. But we do this for fun. No one's out here trying to hurt each other. That's my take on it. You have some guys that have a different mindset, who want to be that guy to knock a great quarterback out of the game or whatever the case may be.
"With that play, I really don't think it was intentional. I don't think he meant to do it on purpose, but he definitely knows better than that. Guys like A-Rod, you respect them so much to the point where I wouldn't dare. If I got a chance to sack A-Rod or knock him out, I'd just go in and make a clean little tackle just to get him on the ground. I wouldn't dare try to drive him into the ground. That's understood. You don't want to hurt a guy like that."
If all of that sounds familiar, it's because Packers coach Mike McCarthy already called the hit "illegal." So, are they right?
During the play that resulted in Rodgers' injury, Rodgers was out of the pocket and had just released the football when Barr barreled into him. Rodgers landed on his right shoulder and stayed down. Barr was not flagged on the play.
Here's the hit in question:
On Friday, Barr defended his hit.
"I don't play dirty," he said, according to Chris Tomasson of the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "We don't preach that around here. It's unfortunate, the injury. I hate to see anybody get hurt."
Barr (correctly) added that if Rodgers had gotten up, nobody would've talked about the hit.
Anthony Barr "I think it’s a dirty play in some people’s eyes because of the injury I think if he gets up we’re not having this conversation— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) October 20, 2017
Anthony Barr: "It’s unfortunate it happened. I know I think I hit Jameis (Winston) similar early in the season and nobody mentioned it."— Chris Tomasson (@christomasson) October 20, 2017
While it's understandable why the Packers are upset with the hit -- their Super Bowl aspirations just went down the drain -- it's absurd to suggest that Barr should've backed off hitting Rodgers. If Matthews or Clinton-Dix thought they were in a position to sack an opposing quarterback, they'd do the exact same as Barr: hit him.
An actual example of Matthews doing something similar:
It's beyond unfortunate that Rodgers is likely out of the season. Football is worse off without him. He will be missed more than any other injured player. But don't blame Barr for making a football play.
Anyway, the good news is that Rodgers' surgery apparently went well. As he recovers, Brett Hundley will step in as the starter. His job? Keep the Packers afloat in case Rodgers can somehow return at some point.