Steve Johnson calls hit on Eric Berry a “good block”


Bills receiver Steve Johnson, one of the most exciting young players in the NFL, finds himself in the middle of a controversy regarding the question of whether he committed a cheap shot on Chiefs safety Eric Berry.

Johnson hit Berry low, ahead of a run from Fred Jackson. The hit tore Berry’s ACL.

On Sunday, Johnson insisted via Twitter that he didn’t commit a cheap shot.  Johnson elaborated on Monday.

You don’t go out there to hurt anybody,” Johnson told WGR radio on Monday, via  “We get plays and coaches tell us what to do, and we go out and try to execute it.  I went out there and did a chop block on Eric Berry, the safety.  Basically, let’s say Freddy was to break that run . . . [Berry] would’ve been the next defender.  That would’ve been, ‘That’s a good block, we just sprung Freddy for the touchdown.’  It just so happened to be a bad play and a bad situation. . . .  I definitely don’t want that to happen to anybody.”

Johnson also said that he has let opposing defenders know that cut blocks are coming before games.

The hit has prompted criticism not only of Johnson but of a system of rules that permits low hits to the legs of defensive players.  NBC’s Rodney Harrison, a former NFL safety, was livid when I spoke to him on Monday, calling the hit by Johnson “cowardly.”  Harrison, who got more angry the more we spoke about the situation, said that defensive players deserve protection against hits that can end seasons and alter careers.

Harrison also wondered whether Johnson would call Berry to apologize for causing the injury, and/or to generally check on him.  Quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick said during Monday night’s episode of NBC SportsTalk on VERSUS that he believes Johnson will do that.

Apparently, it hasn’t happened.  Said Johnson on WGR, “I don’t have his number or nothing, but I mean, shoot, anybody out there listening should know I ain’t trying to hurt nobody or nothing.”

It’ll be easy to get Berry’s number, if Johnson truly wants it.  The broader question is whether hits like the one that tore Berry’s ACL need to be removed from the game, and whether the league will protect defensive players the same way that it protects offensive players.

116 responses to “Steve Johnson calls hit on Eric Berry a “good block”

  1. The kid made a legal block according to the rules. As much as it sucks that Berry got hurt, that’s just how the game is played. Give Johnson a break, change the rule if it is really that dangerous, God knows we keep removing much less damaging things from the game in an attempt to make it safer.

  2. Chop blocks are worse than launching but they should both be allowed as they are a part of the game.

  3. Ah, the Bills must be relevant again; I remember the same carping in the media about legitimate Buffalo plays back in the 90s. 50 guys got put on IR this week, but its the Bills that are committing heinous acts of treachery and deceipt.

    OK big media, bring the hate!

  4. If the goal was to end a guys season, yes, it was a good block

    From the second he was going after Berry, Berry never once looked at him, but yet he went at the guys knee. As Harrison said, it is cowardly. Berry never seen him coming, if he was half a man, he could of decleated him with a clean hit, but decided (yes, decided, it was not a split second bang bang play, he ran 15 yards, minimum, between where he was lined up and where he took out, not blocked, him) to go after his legs. Any respect I may have had for this bumb is out the window

  5. If it’s a legal hit, what’s he apologizing for? I doubt Rodney ever apologized for hitting anyone. He boasted about it.

  6. Great. No high hits. No low hits. What’s next, no mid hits to avoid damaging ribs and internal organs?

    Pretty soon the only flags in football will be worn around the waist. Pathetic.

  7. Steve Johnson was the first one crying when Rahim Moore leveled his buddy Donald Jones with a CLEAN Shoulder first hit to the chest.

  8. And how about all of the ‘clean’ hits Harrison used to lay on people? People who live in glass houses…

    Chan Gailey discussed the hit in his Monday press conference. He also said there was nothing illegal about the hit, and furthermore a referee was standing right there and saw the whole thing. Sure, Chan is going to stick up for his players, but he is also a straight shooter.

    Unfortunate, but its part of the game, which is what I’m sure Harrison would say about people who were carted off the field after some of his hits.

  9. Wasn’t Rodney Harrison voted the league’s dirtiest player by both the players and the coaches in separate surveys conducted years apart?

    Hasn’t he readily admitted to setting aside fine money at the beginning of the season to pay for his headhunting?

    Isn’t he extremely unlikeable?

    That last one was just an opinion.

  10. It is a legal block. Harrison has no room to talk and should shut his hole. He clearly played on the edge of rulebook. Like it or not the hit was legal and was the right play to make. It sucks when a star like Berry gets hurt but it is part of the game.

  11. Would it be worth looking at all of the game tape from every game played this weekend to see how many DBs were chop blocked by WRs and how many didn’t get injured?

    It’s not really fair to call out the one WR that just so happened to injure another player.

  12. This Rat Bas***d Johnson knows good and well that was a cowardly block. I say, not only was it cowardly but it was intentional. There is no doubt he was going after Berry’s knee and I believe he was instructed to do this despicable act by Coach Gailey.
    It is a crying shame that he got away with it. Screw you Johnson and take you POS coach with you.

  13. Harrison’s no saint first of all. Stevie Johnson is not the type hurt somebody on purpose. The guys being blocked are moving targets so I’m sure there
    are blocks that turn out worse than intended.

    The way things are going, everything that’s “football” about football will be legislated out of football.

  14. It was a legal hit, move on. What’s this league coming to?!? If it’s legal there should be no debate as to whether its right to deploy the move. If the NFL wants, they can ban it. They can also go to the Sports Authority or Big 5 and get everyone flags. But until they do, Harrison needs to keep quiet.

  15. Cut blocking has a place, on the line of scrimmage or in the backfield when you are manned up with someone. Doing it out in the open field on a DB running full speed when he isn’t looking is bush league and should be illegal. If Berry was running straight at him it would be a different story, but blind side cut blocking the guy is cheap.

  16. Why don’t we just grow a pair. The players know what to expect. Cut blocking has been a part of the game for years. All of a sudden, an all-pro gets hurt, and we have to change the rules?

    What a crap show this league has turned into. They’re all a bunch of babies.

  17. Harrison, who got more angry the more we spoke about the situation, said that defensive players deserve protection against hits that can end seasons and alter careers.

    I wonder if Harrison was worried about the careers of the recievers he spent his career trying to kill.

  18. actually the title of this article is out of context. He was speculating that someone would call it a good block if Fred Jackson had broken the tackle. What he actually said about it was “It just so happened to be a bad play and a bad situation”

  19. Funny how the initial hit was a legal hit and Berry got up and was evaluated on the sideline and was cleared to play. Wouldnt that be the Chiefs coaching staffs fault? They let him go back in the game then he fell down on his own without contact. So the blame the Chiefs staff not Stevie J’s

  20. Rodney Harrison called it cowardly? The same Rodney Harrison who carved out his reputation by diving at opponents’ knees? That Rodney Harrison?


  21. I don’t believe that Johnson is a dirty player and do believe it was a legal play that should probably be made illegal. I do think that the right thing to do is contact Berry and wish him well and a speedy recovery. To hear him say that he hasn’t got his number is ridiculous though. I am sure his agent could get him a good contact number. Johnson might be a good player but is either not a good person or really dumb.

  22. Pretty soon we will have our NFL players politely tapping each other on the shoulder, saying “please stop your forward progress” “thank you”. It’s football, for crying out loud. Hit people, its your job. Sorry Berry got hurt, but c’mon people….

  23. Stop trying to pressure him to call Berry Mike. It’s FOOTBALL and it was LEGAL BLOCK. The league has a lot of rule violations and that wasn’t one of them.

    Maybe the NFL should call and apologize to Berry.

  24. It was a cheap block! However, don’t all football players (or anyone who has ever played) know to “keep your head on a swivel” when on the field of play?

  25. Is’nt this the same guy that tried to fight Rahim Moore for hitting Donald Jones in the preseason on what looked like a text book hit and play? The hipocrisy thats going on in the NFL now is starting to become disgusting. Defensive players are flagged for being blocked or pushed into the legs of QB’s and flagged for trying to pull up on recievers like Daneal Manning did against Pierre Garcon. But the NFL still alllow cut blocks aimed at defenders legs without any consequences……the reason the first week stats were skewed towards offenses and the passing game in general is because defenses are now rendered toothless in what they can do to offensive players…..its officially now touch football just the way Roger Goddell wants it!!!

  26. Honestly.. I believe that Stevie is not a dirty player. I dont think he would intentionaly hurt another player. Its a block that should be ruled out of the game. Until then it was a legal block.

  27. Has Rodney Harrison forgotten that he wants destroyed Trent Green’s knee in a preseason game, ending Green’s year and launching the career of Kurt Warner?

    These things happen, it’s football. And while it would be nice if Johnson called/texted/emailed Berry, it’s unrealistic and impractical to think a guy is going to reach out to anyone he unintentionally injures.

    These guys understand that injuries are part of the game, and have to drive that entire possibility out of their mind to succeed in the game. I guess Harrison has forgotten that.

  28. I’m calling BS here, Harrison was probably the dirtiest defensive player of his time. He proudly injured lots of players without any regard for their health or careers. He had more than $200,000 in fines and was suspended several times for dirty cheap shots.

    Just last year he said: “Tom Brady, if you’re listening, take off the skirt and toughen up.”

    My response to Harrison after this hypocrisy: “Take a sniff of the steaming brown pile of stank that just fell out of your mouth.”

  29. On the video it is very clear that Berry didn’t see him coming.He could have blocked him high and
    taken Berry out of the play.Blocks below the waist are cheap shots and shouldn’t be allowed!

  30. Of course they won’t. Defensive injuries mean more pts and isn’t that all the NFL wants? Goodell can call it protecting players but his end game is higher ratings and more advertising dollars!

  31. One more game softening rule coming our way. Why don’t they just eliminate kickoffs, make the QB off limits, and make rushing the ball illegal already?

    The QB would have 3 timed seconds to throw the ball, after which the whistle would be blown and a delay of game penalty would be called.

    Teams would line up at the ten yard line after TDs, since there’d be no sack risk, and instead of punting the opposing team would take the ball 35 yards deeper into their territory after third down (unless they opted for a free 4th down play, where if they failed the ball wouldn’t advance 35 yards).

    That’s the way the league is headed, all in the name of “progress”…

  32. I agree with Rodney Harrison on this one. The league has gone too far protecting quarterbacks and other offensive players, but has failed to enact rule to protect the defensive players from dangerous (and yes, cowardly) chop and blindside blocks.

    I was at the game and saw the play in real time. There were other ways to block Berry that would not end his season or perhaps his career. Rodney states the obvous here. Lots of players never return or can never play at the same level after ACL tears. Just because it is a legal block does not mean it is the right thing to do to a vulnerable defensive player, especially when it is very unlikely he’ll be involved in the play anyway.

  33. As of the end of week one 394 players have an injury of some form. I’m sure countless players are not even on the injury list but have had some form of treatment. 172 of those players have a serious injury.

    This is only week one it is a conditioning problem not a problem with how guys are hitting of how the game is played.

  34. Is their anything more hilarious than Rodney Harrison criticizing another player for something dirty?

    Does he know who he is?

    This blocks legal, but debatable whether it was dirty

    How many times did Harrison hit someone and it was neither legal nor debatable

    My only disappointment is that Berry got hit and it couldn’t of been Harrison getting what he deserves

  35. if the point was to take the chiefs best defender out of the game (and now season)by laying a cheap shot, then yes it was an excellent block

  36. No Steve Johnson, you are not trying to get people hurt

    You just happened to do the exact type of thing that DOES get people hurt.

    You chose to block like a coward

    I mean the guy was not looking at you, and you’re both are about the same size. And yet you threw yourself into his knees.
    Just because chop blocking is legal, does not mean you still can’t do it in a cheap way.

    Which you did.

  37. Legal blocks committed in the field of play cannot be considered illegal or cheap, they are what they are (Legal).

  38. They say db’s play defense becuase they don’t have good hands. After this bullsh!t say WR’s play on offense because they’re puzzies!

    Classic example right here.

  39. Man, defensive players are such whiney bitches. They’re always crying about something.

    If you want to be a big man and knock out defensive receivers and headhunt on players while they are trying to make a catch, or grab a qb by his facemask and fling him around Suh style so you can gain some kind of tough man reputation…. then you forfeit your right to bitch and moan when an offensive player throws a block on you.

    By the way, A) Johnson’s block was perfectly legit. He owes nobody an apology. and B) Harrison was one of the dirtiest players in the league, and bragged about it. He should shove his hypocrite words back down his idiot mouth.

  40. It was uncomfortably ugly to watch, but it was within the rules of whats considered a legal block.

  41. Stop trying to make this into something that it’s not.

    1.) This was an undisputed LEGAL hit.

    2.) Injuries like this are a part of the game.

    3.) Rodney Harrison is not a credible source for criticism on these matters. He has long been considered one of the dirtiest players to have stepped onto an NFL field. This is corroborated with various polls of NFL players and coaches, as well as with personal foul statistics.

    4.) Who cares is Steve Johnson calls Eric Barry? It would be nice to know that Johnson has a compassionate side and wishes Barry the best, but there’s simply no information in an action like that. How do you know what the motivations are behind a phone call like that? He could simply be calling in so he could say he did as much.

  42. look i obviously didn’t go pro, as i’m on here, but i played highschool, college, and 4 years of semi-pro as both a line backer and a full back. i have been cut and i have cut people. it’s part of the game. it’s unfortunate that a few get hurt, but people get hurt tackling…people get hurt hitting the ground…do you really want to see two hand touch and a rubber bouncy ground if it guarantees no contact related injuries?

  43. Johnson did shoot Berry a tweet for what it’s worth.
    “Not expecting reply but Heard final news and Real shyt bra Never intended for that. Not even for U to sit for 1 play man. My B”

  44. Last time I checked a cut block was only penalized during the return game, a crackback, and when a defensive lineman is engaged, another offensive lineman cannot cut block. This is ridiculous that Johnson is being labeled as a dirty player. It sucks Berry is out for the year, but that’s football.

  45. This website is a joke. People will write about anything now a days. Like everyone said above. The hit is legal. Stevie Johnson is not a dirty player. He was told to do a cut block and he executed it. It’s very unfortunate that Berry got injured and is out for the year but injuries happen and they are a part of the game. Maybe we should start playing flag football so players won’t get injured anymore. Not to mention that the block Johnson put on Berry wasn’t what injured him. It was a freak accident when Berry made a fast cut to make a tackle and he went to the ground holding his leg.

  46. “Legal blocks committed in the field of play cannot be considered illegal or cheap, they are what they are (Legal).”Not tipping my waitress is legal, but that doesn’t mean it’s not cheap.

  47. It was obviously a great block. Rodney Harrison was an overrated player and is a terrible “analyst”. NBC should fire him immediately. He has no business telling Stevie Johnson what he should do.

  48. Cut blocking is ok if the guy has a chance to see it coming, when you do it to a guy the same size as you in a way he can’t see it coming.

    it’s cheap
    a cheap legal hit

  49. I played LB in school an these type of things piss me off so bad. Just so damn hypocritical. This should have been illegal LONG before helmet to helmet. every time you go at a guys knees its on purpose. Cant say that for helmet to helmet.

  50. It is a Legal block! I bet this was not the only chop block that happened to a DB on sunday. A player got hurt and thats unfortunate but if you are a defender in the National Football League you should have learned to prevent a chop block back in grade school. Johnson does not deserve to get this “dirty player” rap just because he was trying to make a block downfield. I want my receivers blocking downfield, last time I checked, that leads to big runs and touchdowns. As for Rodney Harrison, he was voted dirtiest player in the NFL three times in his career by the media, peers and coaches, he should keep his mouth shut.

  51. There is something off about Johnson. Not just over this incident, but it does highlight it. He’s not right in the head.

  52. The outcome sucks but watching the replay the hit didn’t look malicious. The fact it was the first drive means there was no bad blood out there.

    Berry knew he was there but just ignored him. I think that was the mentality of the Chiefs that entire game.

  53. Rodney Harrison may have been one of the dirtiest players to ever play the game. He has no room to talk. Good block and legal play by Johnson but it sucks that Berry was injured. It’s football, injuries happen. Hopefully Berry makes a smooth recovery from this setback

  54. More rules, they should do this, they should do that……..

    Soon the NFL will have more rules/laws passed than the Federal Polit Bureau, er, Federal Govt. At some point, there should be no rule/law passed without getting rid of one.

    Washington/NY game: Safety converges on pass down the middle, whacks the guy with his shoulder pad against receiver’s upper should pad, nicely breaks up play. 5 years ago, it would be referred to as textbook play. Now, the Washington safety gets a 15 yard penalty, and instead of NY punting, they get awarded a first down. For doing nothing. It is getting more and more ludicrous. Please stop the PC BS or the NFL will look like the U.S. And that is often ridiculous in terms of common sense.

  55. It was a legal play. Its never good when important players for the D or O go down, but its part of the game. It’s why they get paid the big bucks. Johnson was doing what any QB that’s blocking for a HB or WR does. He was essentially doing what darn near every corner back (besides winfield) does whenever he tries to tackle a runner. It’s part of the game. Gailey should be proud of his WR… not because Berry was injured, but because he was helping his team to victory.

  56. Would people stop trying to compare Johnson’s LEGAL block with Rahim Moore’s hit on Donald Jones? Rahim Moore received a penalty and a fine from the NFL. Stevie Johnson received none of the sorts. Berry got off the field, and came back on. 100% of the time, you can’t get up and run, or do anything after tearing your ACL. How is Berry any different?

  57. chipwade says:
    Sep 13, 2011 5:32 PM
    Would it be worth looking at all of the game tape from every game played this weekend to see how many DBs were chop blocked by WRs and how many didn’t get injured?

    It’s not really fair to call out the one WR that just so happened to injure another player.

    Exactly brother, Well said.

  58. I’m not saying that his hit was illegal because its allowed by the NFL. Its just very hypocritical for the NFL to allow for unsuspecting defensive players to be blocked low while a defensive player who is blocked of pushed into a QB’s legs is flagged. Again is the QB’s legs worth more than a DB’s?

  59. jpmelon says:
    Sep 13, 2011 5:21 PM
    Nobody was injured on the play in question….so this is dumb.

    Is that a joke? Eric Berry, maybe the best young safety in the game, is gone for the year. It alters his career permanently. Legal or not legal, it was cheap and Stevie Johnson knows it.

  60. this is pretty ridiculous… every single WR does this….players are gonna get hurt playing this game. people who keep saying he did on purpose are completely ignorant

  61. Since everyone wants to beleive that Stevie Johnson injured Eric Berry; lets see what the Chiefs own website claims:

    “Berry first exited Sunday’s game on the second snap from scrimmage after Bills WR Steve Johnson delivered a down-field cut block near the Kansas City goal line. After being briefly attended to by Kansas City’s medical staff, Berry would walk off the field on his own power.

    He returned to the game two snaps later and attempted to defend TE Scott Chandler on a quick-hitter from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick. Berry was unable to get to Chandler in time and Buffalo took an early 7-0 lead. At the time, Berry jogged off the field.

    Berry was also in the game for the first play of Buffalo’s next drive as well, but it would be his last of the 2011 season. As RB C.J. Spiller completed a seven-yard run on an inside handoff, Berry fell to the ground untouched and away from the play.

    Trainers again came onto the field and Berry limped off with assistance. ”

    So the guy played again during Buffalo’s drive, jogs back to the sideline, then sat on the sidelines waiting for the defence to need to go out again, started to play again 4 downs later, goes down untouched…..and Stevie gets all the blame?

  62. Stevie Johnson should file this in his memory bank if he is ever on the receiving end. And who is to say that may or may not happen. Be careful what you wish for.

  63. Berry DID NOT tear his ACL on that play. He tore it on the next series. Watch the replay of the play that actually hurt him and you can obviously see his knee is messed up.

  64. Rodney is a joke. Db’s tackle like this on every play. Btw just watch NE and especially Welker he does every series.

  65. Anyone who watches football can see that those blocks occur on nearly every play of every game, get over it, its legal. Its illegal when the player is engaged with a blocker and another player cuts his knees…..this was a totally legal block and it is the defenders job to use his hands and avoid a weak block like that.

  66. The shot was completely legal. Everybody is going after Stevie Johnson because he is on the Bills. If he were playing for a better team this wouldn’t be an issue. And lets be real was Berry single handedly going to stop the Bills from putting up 41 points?

  67. This guy obviously needs to be cut down to size and learn what a year of rehab is like. His own words are saying I chopped him low, to bad, so be it. The NFL needs to look into these chop blocks because a lot players are going down.

  68. Like eaglesnoles05 said, man up and block. Harrison’s right. Going after someones legs is cowardly and is worse than helmet to helmet hits in my opinion.

  69. The Raiders shall avenge their AFC West brethren and take it to Stevie Johnson

    ***are you implying that Michael Huff will attempt to tackle somebody? or wait i get it… are talking about the ground that DHB will hit after he drops another pass… shame.

    as far as defending the afc west brethren.. i doubt it. we will all be to busy laughing at the fat mexican Raider fans who dont have jobs punching each other in the face…… because heaven forebid you people act civilized for 3 hours on a SUnday

  70. kcfanatic says: Sep 13, 2011 5:22 PM

    Doesn’t matter. At this point we are screwed. – KC Fan


  71. His job was to keep Berry from making a play, legally. Which he did. This is far more likely that he was trying to plant his shoulder into Berry’s thigh and ended up hitting him 4 inches lower. ( Still legal) Its cheap to hold but it happens on every player. Low blocks happen all the time. SJ is just an easy target after last years drop.

  72. Cheap shot Harrison should shut his big mouth. That block didn’t cause the injury. Berry played quite a while longer after it and seemed fine. He was hurt in preseason game 4(knee injury), and I thought he was out for this game. thats where he got the initial damage. It finally popped when he tried to stop quick and cut. Thats not on Johnson. I don’t see DB’s crying when they take the head off a reciever, so quit crying and man up. Harrison’s an agitating dope, and a bad analyist. He had a rep like Andre “muddy” waters when he played. Hypocrite!

  73. Alright, everyone needs to listen up.

    Firstly, Berry did indeed see Stevie coming, last second perhaps but watch either the highlight or the .gif floating around, pay close attention to Berry’s feet – he very obviously tries to avoid Stevie by pulling up out of his run, unfortunatly while doing this he plants the foot Stevie isn’t blocking into.

    It was likely that it was the planting of his foot increased the seriousness of the injury, the blow would have been more glancing if both players were in motion instead of hitting a stationary target.

    Further, watching highlights of the Raiders on they proceed to say how good the FB for the Raiders is and to illustrate show a play were, you guess it, he does a chop block. The injury while unfortunate is irrelevant, its a LEGAL play, the outcome does not dictate it being “dirty”

  74. “Harrison, who got more angry the more we spoke about the situation, said that defensive players deserve protection against hits that can end seasons and alter careers.”

    HAHAHA. Coming from a guy who made a living for over a decade blowing up wr’s coming across the middle. Hes got so many fines for “bad hits” its funny hes so angry about this

  75. Harrison was fined for dirty hits BEFORE the new league emphasis on player safety. You can imagine how dirty his play was. This is one reason why the public should avoid all these ex-jocks moralizing in the media. It’s just hypocritical and lends even less credence to the issues.

  76. What a joke Harrison coming out with this. We all know that he was know as one of the direst players in the league and a DB. Now we are suppose to think that he is being objective when a DB gets hurt at the hands of a WR. No one wants to see anyone get hurt, all you hear every week is the league is hurting the Defensive players and making it flag football. Now the spike is on the other foot. If Harrison was working for my network i would sit him down and explain what is job is. It isn’t to pick fights with current players that might have did a DB wrong. Hey Harrison your the coward!

  77. The story was about Johnson doing a chop block on a defenseless player. Not Rodney Harrison. He has earned his retirement so let’s let him enjoy it. How about asking Berry how he feels. Wouldn’t that be much more relevant?

  78. Eric Berry got injured AFTER the Steve Johnson block. his knee buckled sideways in the open field. the video is right here sorry there is no superimposed titling saying “goin fo yo knees” which is completely ridiculous.

    all you haters that said some disgusting things need to make sure you have all the facts before going nuts on this kid. his twitter handle is easy to find.

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