GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers talked to Shea McClellin long before the Chicago Bears defensive end dove on top of him and drew a 15-yard penalty for roughing the passer.
The Green Bay Packers quarterback did not get the apology he was jokingly looking for from McClellin, who broke Rodgers’ left collarbone Nov. 4 with a perfectly legal sack at Lambeau Field.
“(I was) joking with him that I was giving him the opportunity to apologize,” Rodgers said. “I had a nice conversation with him.”
Rodgers was aware of McClellin’s comments in advance of the game. Asked by the Chicago Sun-Times what he had planned for Rodgers’ return after knocking him out for seven games, McClellin replied, “Hit ‘em. That’s how you rattle any quarterback. Get pressure on them.”
Rodgers said he didn’t think McClellin’s hit, which kept the Packers’ drive alive after Briggs’ third-down sack. The Packers ended up getting a field goal out of the drive after the first down McClellin’s penalty.
“I didn’t know at first who did it. I actually got a flag in junior college, we were playing Fresno, and I got hit pretty late and I got up and was upset. It was my own guy who fell on me,” Rodgers said Tuesday. “That happens from time to time. So when you get up, you’re not quite sure who landed on you. It could have been a lineman who got tripped or pushed from behind or it could have been a defensive guy.
“I saw the flag so I figured it was obviously a defensive guy. It looked like 99 was the one that did it … I don’t think there’s any malice there, but he did say during the week that he wanted to rattle me and he was going to hit me a lot, so I don’t know if there was any intention there. But I don’t think it was a dirty play, I don’t think he’s a dirty player, and I didn’t see the replay on that whether it should have been a penalty or not. I’m sure Bears fans probably don’t think so.”
Rodgers said he didn’t think he got the call on McClellin because of his start status in the NFL or because officials were going out of their way to protect him. Hits on the quarterback have been harshly legislated in recent years, and Rodgers once had a pair of seemingly obvious penalties go uncalled in the overtime of an NFC Wild Card Playoff loss at Arizona in January 2010.
“Being a Michael Jordan fan growing up, you used to always hear people talking about the ‘Jordan Rules,’ how he would get certain calls because of who he is. As a Jordan fan, you couldn’t buy into that, and as a purist of the game you hope that’s not the case,” Rodgers said of “getting” such calls. “Obviously you want to be protected, but if there’s anything this year has taught me, it’s that it’s become very difficult for defensive players to play.”
Rodgers cited the argument he got into with Baltimore Ravens safety Matt Elam after Elam’s hit on wide receiver Randall Cobb on Oct. 13 caused Cobb to suffer a broken leg.
“I go back to the conversation I had in Baltimore. These guys are thinking about it every play,” Rodgers said. “Their target zones and stuff, I think on one hand it’s done a good job of eliminating the really unnecessary shots that are intentional shots. But on the other hand, I think it does make it difficult for those guys to be able to fly around the same way. I appreciate the direction that the league has gone with player safety, that’s very important, and on the flip side, it has made it a little more difficult for those guys.”
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