This weekend, the Denver Broncos will host the New England Patriots in the AFC Championship Game, with the two teams, once again, setting up an epic matchup between Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for a chance at a Super Bowl appearance.
With all the headlines that will be talked about—like the epic Sunday Night affair the teams played back in November—Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. just tossed another shocker into the mix.
Appearing on SportsCenter to talk about the upcoming game with the Pats, Harris was asked point blank, “How do you tackle Rob Gronkowski?”
Harris’ answer is pretty shocking, per ESPN:
“You gotta hit him low, man — hit him in his knees,” Harris said. “That’s the best chance you have of hitting him.”
Harris went on to say that Gronk couldn’t be brought down by just one player — unless that player took out his legs.
“You gotta take his legs out or hold on and wait for everybody, wait for the gang to come on and gang tackle him,” Harris added.
For all of the debate about defenders going high on offensive players, hoping to eliminate concussions, Harris’ reply is probably the right answer, but it comes across as a vicious way of bringing down Rob Gronkowski, especially when you consider Gronk’s recent history with leg injuries over the past few seasons.
Remember, too, that in the meeting between these two teams in November, the tight end was carted off after a Denver defender hit him low, so Harris’ comments almost come across as if the Broncos have been or will be targeting him.
Gronkowski’s injury ended up not being serious as he came back a few weeks later, but it still drew quite the passionate reaction from quarterback Tom Brady, who said the current rules basically leave players exposed to get hit low, per Pro Football Talk:
“I hate to see it, but it’s really the only way for defenders to hit now. I bet if you asked a lot of players they’d probably rather you go high than low. You go low, that’s what happens. I don’t think it’s dirty, I just think that’s the way football is being played now,” Brady said.
There’s just something unsettling about this prior to a championship game, so I’m sure the NFL and the officiating crew will have a close eye on things to make sure nothing seems out of the ordinary and everyone on both sides comes out unscathed.
Regardless, Pats fans, players and especially Gronk should be on notice of where the Broncos are aiming for to take him to the ground.