GREEN BAY – A love tap. That’s what Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Clay Matthews said he gives opposing quarterbacks.
Matthews knows his reputation with fans of other teams. He doesn’t deny his appreciation for a good hit on the quarterback. It’s how defenders finish that hit, Matthews said, that determines whether it is legal.
“A love tap,” Matthews said.
What Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr did to Aaron Rodgers on Sunday? Not a love tap, Matthews said. The six-time Pro Bowler said Barr should’ve received a penalty for his hit on Rodgers.
“After seeing it,” Matthews said, “I was surprised that he wasn’t flagged. Simply because 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, show that you pulled up on him. But obviously more is going to be made out of it simply because our quarterback broke his collarbone.”
Matthews joined a long line of Packers who took issue with Barr’s hit. Coach Mike McCarthy said earlier this week he didn’t like the hit. Veteran outside linebacker Ahmad Brooks said Barr shouldn’t have driven Rodgers into the ground, while right guard Jahri Evans said he expected the Packers will submit the play to the league.
It’s unclear whether Barr will be fined, but Matthews said it crossed a line. His perspective is interesting, because Matthews is known around the league for having a history of questionable hits. Perhaps most notably, Matthews hit former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick out of bounds in the 2013 opener. Matthews also leveled Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson with a blindside block after an interception in the 2014 NFC championship game.
“I’m not going to go as far as to say hits are dirty,” Matthews said, “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 surprised that there wasn’t a flag. Obviously, I’m going to say I would’ve pulled off on that, but if that was their quarterback, I think it’s at the statute of limitations where you need to pull off.”