The hit has resonated for both players across the last nine weeks. For Aaron Rodgers, whose collarbone was broken on the play, the repercussions have involved surgery and what he says was “a long road from that day to this,” with “this” being a return Sunday against Carolina. For Anthony Barr, the Minnesota Vikings linebacker who delivered the legal hit, the last nine weeks have been ugly.
Barr has been getting hate mail since the Oct. 15 hit in U.S. Bank Stadium. “I actually just got one right here,’’ Barr told the Pioneer Press on Friday. “It says, ‘I hope you tear your anterior cruciate ligament.’ ”
That might have been one of the milder messages. Barr shared one letter, sent through the mail from Fort Myers, Fla., in which the sender said he hopes Barr ends up like Darryl Stingley, who was paralyzed during a 1978 game and died in 2007. The rest of his messages have come on social media, he said.
“Proud of yourself? You’re a piece of s—,” the letter, which Barr shared on Snapchat, said. “You didn’t have to throw him to the ground and purposely come down on top of him. Did you jump for joy when heard his c-bone crack? [Expletive] b——. Come [Dec. 23], hope you get your neck snapped. Remember [Darryl] Stingley? Your payback is coming. Piece of s—. Packers.”
Barr was not penalized on the hit, which came after Rodgers had rolled right and thrown an incomplete pass to the Green Bay Packers’ former tight end, Martellus Bennett.
Rodgers was furious after the play, with cameras catching him directing f-bombs toward Barr. Shortly after having surgery, Rodgers elaborated in a “Conan” appearance, saying that Barr had given him the finger and the “suck-it sign.”
Barr tweeted his disbelief at that time, in late October. “[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.
When he returned to the Packers after having surgery, Rodgers was asked about the hit and said only: “It was deemed a legal hit. You know that you don’t have the same protection outside the pocket. A simple shove-down probably would have sufficed in that situation, but it is what it is.”
All that might seem to be history except for the fact that the Packers and Vikings will play Saturday night, this time in Lambeau Field. Over a week ahead of that game, Barr was downplaying the rematch.
“I don’t really care,” Barr said. “It doesn’t really affect me or this football team in any way. We have a game to worry about [Sunday against Cincinnati]. I’m sure they’re thrilled about it. I’m sure he’s thrilled to be back, but my focus is here with the Vikings.”
Barr isn’t expecting the ugly messages to stop.
“It kind of is what it is.”
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