While watching the Vikings batter and bruise Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford on Sunday from the NBC Sports viewing room, Rodney Harrison saw Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr apply a late hit out of bounds to Stafford, which sent the franchise quarterback skidding into the metal bench.
The hit was surprising, and the reaction from the Lions was, in Rodney’s opinion, shocking. Sure, there was some perfunctory jostling of Barr, but no one confronted him. Which prompted Rodney to call out the Lions during NBC’s Football Night in America.
“This is a cheap shot right here, and nobody comes to his defense except a rookie lineman,” Harrison said, via the Detroit Free Press. “This is crazy. This just shows me how much respect this team has for Matthew Stafford. Not a lot.”
Stafford addressed the remarks the next day.
“I thought it was a great response,” Stafford said on The Mitch Albom Show, via the Free Press. “I don’t know what Rodney wants us to do. If he wants us to have an all-out brawl, we can have an all-out brawl but then they’d just say it’s the same old Lions. I was proud of the guys’ response. We got the 15-yarder, we didn’t negate it by doing something stupid and at the same time we kind of got to let Anthony know how we felt about it.”
Which prompted a reply from Rodney on Tuesday’s Pro Football Talk on NBCSN.
“The number one rule among a great football team is always protect your quarterback,” Rodney said. “It’s on your sideline, a guy pushes your quarterback out of bounds, gives him a cheap shot. And Matthew Stafford may not think that that’s a big deal, but little things like that, they add up. They create a culture and attitude. And for me, I’m one of those guys where if that would have happened to Tom Brady, I would have punched that young guy right in his face, and I don’t care if cost me [$25,000] or $50,000. . . .
“Do you think the Patriots would let this happen or the Indianapolis Colts or the Denver Broncos to Peyton Manning? Never, not on his sideline. So as I much as I like Matthew Stafford because of his toughness and things of that sort, he’s wrong on this one.”
The league presumably appreciates the way the Lions handled the situation, especially with the emphasis this year on reducing fighting. Still, gratuitous efforts to take out the most important player on a given team at times need to be met with an equivalent or stronger response. Otherwise, those efforts will continue.
“If that’s my quarterback, whether or not I like him as a person, I’m gonna protect my quarterback. We have to have that guy for 16 weeks at least if we expect to make a run.”
To see and hear Rodney’s full comments, click the thing in the thing below.