Packers linebacker Clay Matthews has a problem with the hit that Eagles offensive lineman Allen Barbre applied to Matthews on Monday night. The NFL doesnt.
The league regards the block as legal, per a source with knowledge of the situation. Although a blocker moving toward his own goal line cant hit a defender in the head or neck area or apply the crown of his helmet to the defender in any area of his body, the shoulder hit from Barbe to the shoulder/upper chest of Matthews was perfectly legal.
The fact that the hit was legal doesnt necessarily make it clean. Plenty of legal hits, like Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict diving at the knees of Patriots tight end Martellus Bennet, are dirty. Barbes hit nevertheless seemed appropriate and proper under circumstances where Matthews, who was chasing quarterback Carson Wentz, perhaps should have had his head on a proverbial swivel.
Matthews has at least one illegal and dirty hit on his record. In January 2015, he was fined $22,050 after applying a blindside block to Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson. This year, Matthews was fined $18,231 for hitting Bears quarterback Brian Hoyer with the crown of the helmet, breaking Hoyers arm.
In 2015, Matthews was fined $17,363 for hitting then-Rams quarterback Nick Foles with the crown of the helmet in the chest.
When you play hard, you have no regrets, Matthews said at the time. And thats kind of how I play, whether its a facemask or a low hit on a quarterback. I dont think anybody intentionally, especially myself, goes out there and tries to inflict illegal hits. Or pain. Or whatever you like to call it. Its just a byproduct of playing hard, I believe.
Barbe would likely say the same thing. Especially since his hit on Matthews definitely was legal and by all appearances was clean.
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