EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr spoke to reporters on Friday for the first time since Sunday's win over the Packers, and told the Twin Cities media that it was not his intent to injure Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Barr tackled Rodgers midway through the first quarter in Minnesota's 23-10 win after the quarterback had rolled to his right out of the pocket.
Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on the play. The Packers have said the quarterback could potentially miss the rest of the 2017 season.
"By no means was I trying to injure or take out Aaron Rodgers," Barr said. "He's one of the best players in this league. I'm not a dirty player … we don't preach that around here.
"It's unfortunate, I hate to see anybody get hurt. I know how hard he works each week to prepare to be able to play. It's a gift and a privilege to be able to play on the field each week, so I would never try and take that away from anybody, let alone one of the best players in our game," Barr added. "I think it's a dirty play in some people's eye because of the injury. I think if he gets up, then we're not having this conversation.
"I wish him a speedy recovery," Barr continued. "He's one of my favorite players to compete against and play against. I have the utmost respect for him and the entire Packers organization."
Barr said he's received plenty of scrutiny for the play, especially on social media. The former first-round pick said he had 3,000 Twitter notifications when he checked his phone for the first time after the hit, most of which were "not too kind words."
"Everybody has their own opinion, and a lot of people are saying a lot of different things," Barr said. "I know my intent was not to injure him. I'm out there trying to play as hard as I can and as fast as I can to the best of my abilities.
"Everyone is going to be entitled to their opinion. If it happened to my quarterback, I'd probably say it was illegal and the same thing," Barr said of the criticism he's received. "They're trying to defend their guy, and you don't want to see a player get injured."
Barr, who has made back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances, said he has not heard from the NFL in terms of a fine.
The play was not flagged by officials.
The No. 9 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft missed the second half of Sunday's game with a concussion but said Friday that he has cleared the concussion protocol.
Barr is tied for second on the Vikings with 40 total tackles (according to coaches' tally). He also has four tackles for loss and three passes defensed in 2017.
"I'm just trying to play hard and get to the ball," Barr said. "Trying to minimize mistakes and be the best player I can be. I think I'm doing well, but I have to continue to improve.
"I think I'm better than I've ever been," Barr later added. "I feel good with where I'm at as a player."