Barry Church denies malicious intent on Rob Gronkowski hit
Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church defended himself Sunday night after his hit knocked Rob Gronkowski out of the AFC Championship with a concussion.
Church said he wasn’t trying to injure Gronkowski or go helmet-to-helmet on him, but was trying to hit him in the proper zone. Doing so, he said, was “nearly impossible” at the speed of play.
“I just tried to dislodge the ball,” Church said after the Jaguars’ loss, via Josh Alper of ProFootballTalk. “He’s a big dude and I was just trying to dislodge the ball, but I guess they felt it was too high of a hit. I hope he’s healthy. I know he didn’t come back so I hope he’s alright. It was a tough call, but you have to go with what they call. It’s the toughest play in football, if you go low for the knees you are considered a dirty player and if you go high, they throw the flag at you. It’s a bang-bang play and I was just trying to play football. I tried to lead with my shoulder.”
Church was defended for the hit by one of his peers, though that will come as little consolation to Gronkowski and Patriots fans. The good news is that New England seemingly expects him to be okay for the Super Bowl.