Anthony Barr might be the most hated man among Wisconsinites right now.
The Minnesota Vikings linebacker likely ended the season of Aaron Rodgers last week, throwing the Green Bay Packers‘ playoff aspirations in doubt.
While many (really, Packers fans, Rodgers fantasy football owners, and Rodgers himself) cried foul over Barr’s hit on the quarterback, former NFL vice president of officiating disagrees that the play was dirty.
That hit on Rodgers was legal. He was out of the pocket on the run.
— Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) October 15, 2017
Barr wasn’t penalized for the hit.
And while the linebacker stands by his assertion that the hit was clean, he said on Friday that he understands how Packers fans feel—and that he’d probably feel the same way if the shoe was on the other foot.
“By no means was I trying to take out Aaron Rodgers,” Barr said, according to the Associated Press. “He’s one of, if not the best, player in this league. I’m not a dirty player. I don’t play dirty. We don’t preach that around here. It’s unfortunate, the injury. I hate to see anybody get hurt. I know how hard you work each week to prepare to be able to play. It’s a gift and a privilege to be able to play on the field each week, so I would never try to take that away from anybody, let alone one of the best players in our game.
“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. I wish him a speedy recovery. One of my favorite players to compete against, to play against. I got the utmost respect for him and the whole entire Packers organization. So I would never try to injure anybody, especially their quarterback. … Everybody’s going to be entitled to their opinion. I think if it happened to my quarterback, I’d probably say it was illegal and the same thing, just because you’re trying to defend your guy.”
Rodgers had successful surgery to repair his collarbone on Thursday.