Aaron Rodgers on controversial roughing calls: Those 'are not penalties'

A player like Aaron Rodgers is the exact reason the NFL is determined to protect quarterbacks at almost all costs to gameplay.

So when he comes out against some of the rules implemented to protect him, it speaks volumes.

Aaron Rodgers critical of NFL’s QB protection rules

Rodgers spoke with reporters Wednesday about a pair of controversial penalties from Sunday’s tie between the Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers.

One of those flags directly changed the outcome of the game when Packers linebacker Clay Matthews delivered what was by almost any definition a clean hit on Vikings quarterback Kirk Cousins late in the fourth quarter. Instead of a game-sealing interception on the play, it turned into a 15-yard penalty and first down for the Vikings, who then marched for the game-tying touchdown.

Rodgers spoke candidly Wednesday, and, like most, did not agree with the call.

“There’s a goal to limit these hits,” Rodgers said. “But they’re pretty obvious when you see them. You know, a guy picking somebody up — full weight on them. What do you say to Clay? His head is out of it. His hand is on the ground. That’s not roughing the passer.”

Rodgers also not happy with call against Vikings

Lest Rodgers be accused of cherry-picking plays that benefit the Packers, he had similar criticism of the flag thrown when Vikings linebacker Eric Kendricks hit him in the same game.

“Same thing with Kendricks,” Rodgers said. “What do you say to him on that? I didn’t get up off the ground thinking ‘where’s the penalty?’ I saw a late flag and couldn’t believe there was a penalty on the play.”

Aaron Rodgers, a primary beneficiary of the NFL’s stringent roughing the passer rules, is not a fan of them. (AP)
Aaron Rodgers, a primary beneficiary of the NFL’s stringent roughing the passer rules, is not a fan of them. (AP)

Rodgers a reason for vague roughing rules

The irony, of course, is that one of the NFL’s vague rules on roughing the passer exists because of Rodgers. Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone last year when Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr drove him into the ground on a hit that cost him most of the season.

Now, defensive players are flagged based on an official’s approximation of whether a player used “most, if not all” of his body weight on a tackle. Good luck to all involved with that.

That rule has already resulted in the NFL walking back another game-changing penalty when Cleveland Browns pass rusher Myles Garrett got flagged when he hit Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in Week 1.

This time, the NFL stuck to its guns insisting that Matthews’ hit that was clearly legal to almost every neutral observer of Sunday’s game was in fact a penalty. Going another step, the NFL is using the hit as an example of what not to do moving forward.

Rodgers: ‘It’s still a collision sport’

Rodgers put a voice to the opinion of many players and observers of the game who are baffled over the way it’s being officiated.

“I’m a traditionalist,” Rodgers said. “I’ve watched the game and loved the game for a long time. And some of the rules, I think help. Some of the rules are maybe going the wrong direction. They’re trying to think about the progress of the game and the safety and stuff.

“But it’s still a collision sport, and those to me are not penalties.”

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