One year later, Vikings' Anthony Barr vs. Aaron Rodgers just 'another game'
EAGAN, Minn. — Eleven months after his tackle broke Aaron Rodgers' collarbone, Anthony Barr is scheduled to face the Green Bay quarterback again this weekend.
Barr isn't reading much into that.
"It's another football game," the Vikings linebacker said of Sunday's game at Lambeau Field.
On Oct. 15, 2017 at U.S. Bank Stadium, Barr hit Rodgers after he had rolled to his right and thrown what would be an incompletion. No penalty was called and Barr wasn't fined, but Packers coach Mike McCarthy called it "an illegal act."
In the weeks that followed, Rodgers and Barr criticized each other for the interaction they had after the play. And Barr began to receive hate mail from apparent Packers fans.
Rodgers missed nine of last season's final 10 games, including Minnesota's 16-0 victory at Lambeau Field in Week 16. The Packers went 3-6 without Rodgers and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2008.
Now, the two are likely to face off again. Rodgers has said he plans to play Sunday after suffering a left knee injury last weekend in the first half against Chicago before returning in the second half to rally the Packers from a 20-0 deficit to a 24-23 win. However, McCarthy said Monday no decision had been made on whether Rodgers will play.
Speaking after Minnesota's 24-16 win over San Francisco in last weekend's opener, Barr said he's had "no conversations" with Rodgers since the hit last fall. He declined to speculate on whether he might talk with Rodgers on Sunday.
Asked what sort of greeting he expects to receive at Lambeau Field, Barr said, "I'm not worried about that."
Last December, some fans held up signs criticizing Barr, and he received plenty of boos. Some Vikings players figure it will be more of the same Sunday.
"Fan-wise, I know they're probably not thrilled with him, but it is what it is," Vikings defensive end Tashawn Bower said. "You can't change it. ... I'm sure they have a reason to not like him."
While some Packers players have disagreed, Vikings players have contended that Barr's hit was clean. NFL referee Pete Morelli, though, said last month that under a new NFL rules interpretation to better protect quarterbacks, Barr's hit this season would be considered a penalty because there was "plopping down" on a "defenseless player."
Rodgers' criticism of Barr has focused on what happened after the play rather than the hit. Last October, Rodgers said on the TBS talk show "Conan" that Barr gave him the "finger (and) suck-it sign" after the play.
Barr then took to Twitter to say Rodgers wasn't telling the whole story. Barr wrote that he didn't retaliate until after Rodgers was "calling me all kind of names, F you this, F you that."
In a July interview for Peter King's Football Morning in America, Rodgers said he considered it "time to move on for everybody." However, he reiterated his previous criticism of Barr.
"I had looked over (after the hit) just to see if maybe there was gonna be a thumbs up, or 'Hey, you OK?' Or whatever," Rodgers told King. "It's a league where you appreciate what we put our bodies through. I thought ... knowing that I wouldn't be on the ground unless it was a significant injury then maybe he'd be looking over, giving me a thumbs-up-you-OK? Or something. But it wasn't the case. We had some words exchanged on both sides."
Barr heard from Packers fans, too. He received Twitter messages that said "I hope you tear your ACL" and "I still hope you break your neck."
Barr got a card in the mail from someone wanting him to end up like Darryl Stingley, the New England receiver who was paralyzed by a hit in a 1978 preseason game and died in 2007. It was written, "Your payback is coming."
About the hate messages, Barr said in December, "I don't feel it's going to stop." He declined this week to say if they are still coming.