It was perhaps the most-watched moment in an NFL season full of terrible injuries to star players, yet somehow what happened after Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on a tackle by Anthony Barr has come down to a he said-he said.
Rodgers started this last week when he described what happened on the play, telling Conan O’Brien in outtakes on his TBS show that, although cameras caught his comments, they didn’t show what preceded them. “I looked over at him as I walked off the field,” he said. “The cameras caught me saying something to him, but what they missed was him [giving the] finger, [and the] ‘suck it’ sign. [There’s] no respect any more in this business. But I’m good now. Thirteen screws later and here I am.”
ESPN reported that Barr grabbed his crotch after the hit, but the NFL is not looking into the allegation, which Barr took pains to crush on social media Saturday. “[Shaking my head] this guy got ya’ll [sic] fooled man,” he wrote. “After the play, I go back to the huddle, don’t even look or say a word to him. Once he gets up, I’m waiting for the play call and hear someone shouting all kinds of profanities. I look over and it’s y’all mans [sic] calling me all kinds of names, F you this, F you that as he’s walking off the field. So naturally I responded. I don’t care if you [sic] Aaron Rodgers or Mr. Rodgers, if you say something like that you’re gonna get a response from me. I could go on a talk show every weekend and complain about the ‘disrespectful’ things players say or do. If he takes the lick and keeps it pushing, we aren’t STILL talking about this.” Barr added the hashtags “#13dayslater” and “getoverit” for good measure.
Not surprisingly, there was a difference of opinion over the hit, too, which Packers Coach Mike McCarthy regarded as “illegal” and “unnecessary.” Barr, who was not flagged or fined on the play, initially said that he wasn’t certain exactly what Rodgers had said to him. “He wasn’t happy, and I understand. He probably realized that he was injured at that time and he wasn’t happy,” Barr said. “I probably would have had that same reaction. It’s fine.”
Rodgers underwent surgery in which a number of screws were placed in his collarbone on Oct. 19 and he seemingly walked back the “13 screws” comment in a text exchange with ESPN.com’s Jason Wilde. “It’s TV. Sometimes you exaggerate. And then sometimes you tell the truth,” Wilde said that he joked. His activities in the Los Angeles area? “Reading ‘Into the Wild’ with my feet in the sand at the beach, recovering.” With the Packers on their bye this week, he plans to return to the team Monday.
So, if he was joking about 13 screws, maybe he was exaggerating, too, about Barr? Maybe he’ll clear all this up this week when he returns to Green Bay after having surgery and recuperating in Southern California. Or not. In any case, the exchange spices up the Dec. 23 matchup between the Vikings and Packers in Lambeau Field. That game comes a week after Rodgers would be eligible to play, if his collarbone heals cooperatively and if the Packers are in playoff contention.
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