For the past 10 weeks, Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr has been reminded of his hit that resulted in a broken collarbone for Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Twitter posts are filled with statements of him being a dirty player, with some taking it as far as to wish him bodily harm. The linebacker shared one such sentiment on Snapchat, posting a photo of a letter sent to him in the mail from someone hoping “you get your neck snapped.”
Rodgers suffered a fractured clavicle in his throwing shoulder on the Packers’ second series against the Vikings on Oct. 15 at U.S. Bank Stadium. As Rodgers rolled to his right, he was brought to the ground by Barr — a legal tackle — as his pass went incomplete.
Ten weeks after the incident, the hateful messages haven’t stopped.
“It is what it is,” Barr said. “What are you doing to do? I can’t control that. I have to go about my business the same way I’ve been doing for the last — what’s it, Week 16? Same old story.”
The Pro Bowl linebacker knows the type of reception he’ll receive Saturday night at Lambeau Field when the Vikings face the Packers on their home turf.
“I’m sure they’ll all be fired up,” Barr said. “So will we.”
He expects to be a target from a Packers fan base that blames him for dismantling the team’s season.
“I don’t think it’ll be too much of a factor,” Barr said. “I’m pretty good at tuning that stuff out.”
Asked about what they might face from the Green Bay crowd Saturday, some of Barr’s teammates expect the retribution to be between fans and not spill onto the field.
“From the years that I’ve been here, there hasn’t been this much hate [in the rivalry], should I say, but it shouldn’t become anything as far as physical,” receiver Stefon Diggs said. “I hope not. I hope there’s still some class there. It’s really unfortunate what happened. Nobody wants that for anybody, but it was, like, how many weeks ago?
“Hopefully they’ve moved past it. [Rodgers] came back. Their season didn’t go probably the way they wanted it to because they didn’t have him. But at the end of the day, we all still play football, we’re all grown men. Hopefully it doesn’t become any type of thing where somebody has to worry about their safety because this is grown men you’re talking about. I hope they don’t try to hurt anybody.”
Rodgers returned for last week’s game against Carolina but, with the Packers having been eliminated from playoff contention, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday.
Given that his hit was deemed legal by referees and Barr did not incur a subsequent fine, the level of vitriol is surprising — but not to Barr.
“No, not really,” Barr said. “It’s Aaron Rodgers. It’s one of the faces of the NFL. It’s going to happen.”
Barr said he hasn’t heard from any Green Bay players who wanted to make amends and move past the incident. While he expects a physical game against an NFC North rival, it’s no different than what he says he’d anticipate any other week.
Getting out of Green Bay with a victory helps the Vikings’ chances of clinching a first-round bye in the playoffs, the only thing with which Barr says he’s concerned.
“I think you’re supposed to play to the whistle regardless of who you’re playing,” Barr said. “I don’t know. I’m going to play my game.
“We’re playing for seeding. We have big things to play for right now. Division games are always important. Road games are always important. My focus, our focus, is winning the game. Doesn’t matter who the opponent is. We’re going to go in there and try and play to win.”