The Minnesota Vikings took umbrage with Lamarcus Joyner on Sunday, this after the Rams defensive back unloaded on a sliding Teddy Bridgewater in the fourth quarter of Minnesota’s 21-18 overtime win. Bridgewater was knocked unconscious, left the game with a concussion and did not return.
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer voiced his crystal-clear thoughts on the matter during the postgame press conference, indirectly accusing Joyner of a dirty hit and implying that Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams may have had a Bountygate-style approach to injuring Bridgewater.
Was this a dirty hit?
“I didn’t think so,” Super Bowl champion and TOPS host London Fletcher said on CBS Sports Radio’s Tiki and Tierney. “I’ve had hits like that on the quarterback. When you’re a guy and you decide to run as a quarterback and you don’t get down fast enough, that’s just part of it. I think it’s magnified because it’s the St. Louis Rams and Gregg Williams is the defensive coordinator over there, so that magnifies it and makes it seem like, ‘Oh, man, it was definitely intentional.’ But you see that hit in many ball games throughout the season. When the quarterback decides to run, you’re no longer protected, and yeah, you slide, but you need to slide a lot quicker, Teddy.”
It’s certainly possible that the result of the hit – and not the hit itself – was what made the play look so bad. After all, the hit didn’t knock Bridgewater out; Bridgewater’s head hitting the ground after the hit is what knocked him out. In other words, the hit, as is often the case, looked worse than it really was.
But for Tiki Barber, the hit was still dirty because Bridgewater was clearly giving himself up on the play.
“I look at it like this,” Fletcher said. “If you’re a quarterback and I’m a defensive player and I see this quarterback running, I’m not thinking, ‘Oh, I’m about to put a dirty hit on this guy.’ I’m thinking, ‘I’m going to make a tackle and I’m going to hit him hard.’ There’s nothing about (trying) to intentionally hurt him or knock him out. I think it’s a big story that’s really nothing.”
Barber, to be fair, believes that intentionally trying to hurt someone is a thing of the past, that it doesn’t happen in the NFL anymore. Fletcher, however, wouldn’t go that far.
“There’s probably times when you may not necessarily discuss it,” he said, “but there’s a couple guys I’m sure you have on the list – (like a couple of safeties) or a defensive end down in Dallas.”