Minkah Fitzpatrick on Nick Chubb hit: I’m not a dirty player
Browns running back Nick Chubb is out for the year after a knee injury he suffered on a hit by Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick on Monday night and Fitzpatrick addressed the play for the first time on Thursday.
Some found Fitzpatrick’s hit dirty because he went low on Chubb while linebacker Cole Holcomb was trying to bring him down and Fitzpatrick said that he made the choice “to go low” as soon as he saw the hole open up for Chubb. He called it “a fast game” and that Holcomb got on Chubb after he’d committed to the tackle, which is why he feels the play was unfortunate rather than dirty.
“I’m a guy that is a competitor, that’s going to go out there and play the game,” Fitzpatrick said, via Brooke Pryor of ESPN.com. “I’m chippy, I’m edgy, of course, but I’m not a dirty player. I’m not going to sit here and defend my character. I know the type of player I am. Chubb knows the type of player I am. I played against him for the past five years, two times a year. And I love competing against him. He brings the best out of me and I bring the best out of him. No chance that I would ever try and purposely injure somebody, always. It was an unfortunate event. . . . You make decisions within milliseconds. You can’t really control what happens after you choose to make your decision. I already chose to go low. Somebody got on his back as I was going low and what happened, happened; there’s nothing I really would do differently. It’s very unfortunate. Chubb’s a great player. He makes the game a lot better when he’s playing.”
Fitzpatrick added that people telling him he should have gone high “never tackled Nick Chubb running downhill before because you’re “going to get concussed” trying to do that and that defensive players are entitled “to protect ourselves” as well.
NFL rules allow for defenders to hit ballcarriers low even if they are engaged with another player. That’s a difference from rules governing low blocks in similar situations, but there’s been no sign that the league is planning to change that rule.