Luke Kuechly admits it. He cheated. Sort of. Four years ago.
The Panthers linebacker and squeaky clean former NFL defensive player of the year grinned this week, and admitted he may have possibly gotten away with a pass interference call against Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski in 2013.
“A couple years later I can admit that I might have gotten away with one there,” Kuechly said, via Joe Person of the Charlotte Observer. “It’s too late now. A couple years removed, hopefully there’s no hard feelings in Boston.”
There certainly were at the time.
Officials actually threw the flag in the end zone, but picked it up after the final play of that game, allowing the Panthers to hang onto a 24-20 win. That no-call left Tom Brady fuming at referee Clete Blakeman (who had deemed the pass uncatchable).
“I wasn’t very positive. I don’t think I said very nice things to him, so I’d like to apologize to him,” Brady said this week. “But yeah, that was a little unfortunate. I wish we had gotten that call. That would’ve been a good call. That would have been a fun next play, I’ll tell you that. With one play left in the game, but oh well.”
Calling Kuechly’s play a bear hug might be a generous assessment, but it worked out for him that night. We’ll see on Sunday if Brady and Gronkowski actually hold a grudge.