MINNEAPOLIS - After a week in which Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy, Packers players and others took shots at Anthony Barr, he finally had his say.
The Vikings linebacker, whose first-quarter hit last Sunday broke star quarterback Aaron Rodgers' collarbone, was himself knocked out of that game with a second-quarter concussion. Because he was in the NFL's concussion protocol, he wasn't allowed to talk to the media until Friday, Oct. 20.
"By no means was I trying or take out Aaron Rodgers," Barr said. "He's one of the, 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 wish him a speedy recovery."
Rodgers has undergone surgery and could be out for the season. In Minnesota's 23-10 victory over Green Bay at U.S. Bank Stadium, Rodgers was hit by Barr after he rolled to his right and threw what would be an incompletion.
Barr was not assessed a penalty on the play and was not fined by the NFL. Still, the day after the game, McCarthy called the hit "an illegal act" and "totally unnecessary."
"Everyone's going to be entitled to their opinion," Barr said. "I think if it happened to my quarterback, I probably would say it was illegal and the same thing just because you're trying to defend your guy and you don't want to see your player get injured."
Barr, who has been cleared to play Sunday against Baltimore at U.S. Bank Stadium, was injured late in the second quarter when he said he banged into a teammate. When he went to the locker room at halftime, he was greeted by a flurry of messages.
"When I got back to my phone at halftime, I had like 3,000 notifications," Barr said. "Mostly not too kind words."
Barr insisted the criticism hasn't bothered him. Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks, Barr's good friend and also his teammate at UCLA, isn't surprised.
"He's a pretty even-keel kind of guy," Kendricks said. "Fans are always going to criticize."
Although Barr wasn't fined for the NFL for the hit, a source said he was docked $9,115 for an incident later in the first quarter, when he head-butted Packers receiver Davante Adams following an interception by Vikings cornerback Xavier Rhodes.
"That's not me being dirty. That's just me being stupid," Barr said. "It cost my team 15 yards in a crucial situation; getting a turnover, I was just way too excited. I need to celebrate with my teammates instead of talking to the opponent, and I will learn from that mistake."
Barr insisted, though, his hit on Rodgers wasn't a mistake.
"I hit Jameis (Winston of Tampa Bay) similar early in the season and nobody mentioned it," Barr said. "I think it's a dirty play in some people's eyes because of the injury. I think if (Rodgers) gets up, we're not having this conversation.
"(Rodgers is) one of my favorite players to compete against, to play against. I've got the utmost respect for him and the whole, entire Packers organization."
If he had to do it over, Barr said he wouldn't change anything, saying there was just a split second between when Rodgers released the ball and Barr's hit. Barr said he didn't realize Rodgers "was injured until he kind of was walking off."
Television cameras captured Rodgers saying something about the hit when he left the field, but Barr didn't know what it was.
"He wasn't happy, and I understand," Barr said.
As for what McCarthy said about Barr, cornerback Terence Newman, a Vikings captain, shrugged it off.
"We won the game, and they lost it," Newman said. "You can watch plays every week and things like that happen. It's football."
The Pioneer Press is a Forum News Service media partner.