September 28 – Bears at Packers
In week 4, Danny Trevathan launched his helmet into the helmet of a defenseless Davante Adams, who was in the grips of another Bears defender. The brutal hit resulted in a neck injury and concussion. The Packers still beat the Bears, and then, almost miraculously, Adams was cleared to play at the last moment in the ensuing game against the Cowboys.
Along with Aaron Jones, Adams was instrumental in the Packers stirring 35-31 victory in Dallas. Adams accounted for seven catches, 66 yards, and two of the team’s four offensive touchdowns in the game.
October 15 – Packers at Vikings
In week 6, after Aaron Rodgers had thrown but two passes, the Vikings Anthony Barr ruthlessly and illegally smashed into Rodgers after he had thrown a pass, and then pounded him into the ground with all of his 255 pounds on top of the quarterback. It caused Rodgers to miss the the rest of that game, to require surgery, and to miss the next seven games as well.
The dirty hit was instrumental in the Vikings’ winning this critical intra-division contest, and it established momentum for the Vikings for the rest of the season. Of their next eight games, the Packers went 3-5, all but eliminating their playoff hopes. As I said at the time, Barr should be named the Vikings’ most valuable player for the year for taking out their rival’s star.
December 17 – Packers at Panthers
In week 15, Davante Adams was once again the victim of a violent and filthy hit, this time by Carolina linebacker Thomas Davis. It came during the runback of a Rodgers’ interception, when Davis blindsided Adams with a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit. Davis is not just your everyday thug – he’s a 13-year veteran, former first-round draft choice, All-Pro in 2015 and Pro-Bowler last year. Thomas’s mayhem was intentional and calculated.
Adams had this to say after the Carolina game: “Not the type to rant but when u go through this shit twice in a year it takes a lil toll on u so excuse me.” You are too kind, Davante.
The play happened early in the second half, with the Packers trailing by only three points. With Green Bay’s go-to receiver out, Green Bay inserted backup Geronimo Allison for the rest of the game. As the Packers and Rodgers were driving toward the tying score with just under two minutes remaining, it was Adams’ replacement who fumbled, ending the Packers playoff hopes for good.
Why the Packers?
Should Packers fans quit complaining, as plays like these happen almost every game, and to almost every team?
Think again. During the 2017 regular season, I count three helmet-to-helmet incidents that were severe enough to result in game suspensions – ultimately for one game each. So, though there are 32 teams in the league, Packers players were victims in two-thirds of the serious helmet-to-helmet incidents.
Packer fans have every right to feel paranoid about dirty players!
Dirty – But Effective
No one can say for sure if the Packers would have beaten the Panthers if not for the foul hit on Davante Adams. But we can be fairly sure the hit on Rodgers cost the Packers from two to four games in the win column.
I’ll remember the 2017 Packers as a gallant group who, given the above adversities, actually performed above expectations. I’ll also think back on 2017 as being the year my team got hijacked by three thugs: Trevathan, Barr, and Davis.
The league has done nothing meaningful to deter such play. Quite the opposite, the NFL has incentivized the league’s hoodlums – relatively few, thank God – to try to take out their opponents’ top players.
So, expect to see this shit be on the rise in years to come. It works.