Was the season-ending hit on Aaron Rodgers a cheap shot?

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Green Bay Packers Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone Sunday on a rough hit by Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr. Colin Cowherd, Jason Whitlock, Tony Gonzalez and Dean Blandino react.

- Whitlock, do you think it was a cheap shot?

- With-- without question I think it's a cheap shot. It technically is not illegal, but it is a cheap shot. It's something the league needs to address.

Again, inside or outside of the pocket, you've got to remember who these quarterbacks are. They're the leading men on a big television show, and you can't have them knocked out of the game on a hit like that. What the NFL has to come to grips with-- defensive players are-- is the intimidation plays, the hits that you hope take a toll over the course of a game or course of the season. They need to remove that to keep these quarterbacks upright.

Because, again, it's a television show. And Aaron Rodgers is the biggest star of that. The league needs to address this and remove this type of play from the game.

- So you're saying it's legal.

- But it's cheap. It's cheap. He knew the ball was out of his hands.

And he piled on here on the most important player in the game. It's a joke. It's cheap.

HOST: Have you read the papers? His family has taken more cheap shots at him over the last year than that. I just don't see it.

I mean, I think-- now you can argue he's-- how about this? He's 6' 2'', 220. He's a little undersized anyway, second broken collarbone. We're looking at Tony Romo 2.0, a really, really great player-- Rodgers is clearly better-- who's not a big athlete. And now upstairs-- shoulders, collarbones-- he's injury-prone.

WHITLOCK: It's a cheap shot, though.

- It doesn't feel cheap to me. Dean, is that cheap?

- I think it's an interesting point Jason brings up about the intimidating and the punishing hits, because I think those are going away. I think the game has changed. The league has changed.

WHITLOCK: Yeah.

- But the bottom line is when you leave the pocket as a passer, you lose protections. And we looked at that with the Competition Committee this past offseason, all of the quarterback injuries. And it's amazing the number of injuries that occur outside the pocket compared to inside the pocket. It's almost two to one.

So when you leave the pocket, you put yourself at risk. You get less protection. You take more hits.

And I think the league is certainly going to look at it. I just don't know what the solution is. Because how do you tackle a guy like Aaron Rodgers, who's so dynamic outside the pocket and can make plays? What is that defender supposed to do?

WHITLOCK: He didn't have the ball, so he wasn't tackling him.

HOST: But he had the ball a split second before.

- Split second earlier.

HOST: I agree with you right there. I mean, you watched the tape from last week, and that drive, a game-winning drive when he went to the sideline. He puts a little stinky leg on you, a little juke move. This guy is known for this, making plays with his legs.

Absolutely, I don't think it was a cheap shot. Of course, he picked him up as a football player and grinded him into the ground. That's what you do when you're learning how to tackle.

But I think he did it illegally. No way would I say that that was cheap, but definitely was he trying to send a message to Aaron Rodgers?

HOST: Yes.

- I'm going to hit ya, and I'm going to be--

HOST: Well, by the way--

- --in your face all day and grind you into the ground. Yes, absolutely.

WHITLOCK: That part of football because of where we're at-- the money invested in these quarterbacks, what these all the pressure on the league-- that part of football is being eliminated and needs to be eliminated. Again, I'm an old school guy, and I get that hit and what it's about. But that part of football is dying and should be dead.

- OK, OK.

- Why?

- If you are taking-- watch it again. So this now is illegal?

WHITLOCK: Yes.

- That's less than a half second after the ball is released.

- Wha-- wha-- wha-- you said you are not an old school guy then, because you-- no, you're not.

WHITLOCK: Yes, I am.

- You've got your suit and tie on.

HOST: It's very new school thinking.

- You're not old school.

HOST: It's new school thinking.

HOST: Yeah, that's very new school.

- It's about where the league is at right now, and it's about these quarterbacks. They drive this entire league. That's the most important player in the league.

HOST: I agree.

HOST: Yeah.

- That is the Michael Jordan of football.

HOST: OK, but--

- He can't go-- the ball is out of his hands. He can't go out. If the injuries are coming outside the pocket, they need to fix it and give defenders another way to defend.

HOST: By the way, Aaron Rodgers last week is running out of the pocket. Of course defensive players-- this is the Cam Newton story.

Cam runs around, frustrates defenders. When they get the once a game shot at him, they take it! That doesn't look cheap to me at all.

- If they take this away, I mean--

- You give them something back.

- There's nowhere to go.

- You give them something back.

- It's going to be almost impossible.

- They have to-- look, if you let the defenders put their hands on receivers and defend them the way they should be allowed to defend them instead of all these Mickey Mouse pass interference calls, that's what you give the defense back. But those type of hits on the guys you're dependent on to draw ratings for you every week-- and that's how everybody gets paid--

- Yeah.

- You've got to protect that guy.

- It's funny. Ray Lewis is your favorite player. So forget [INAUDIBLE].

- I get It. In the pocket, you can do whatever you want to Aaron Rodgers and these guys when they have the football, when they let it go. That's what-- they make money with that guy. That's like Tiger Woods out there in golf.

- They make money with a--

- Would you rather have Tiger Woods in golf or would you rather have him nursing a bunch of injuries?

- I would rather have Tiger Woods but not if it meant that nobody else could ever beat Tiger in an individual hole. It's part of losing, you lose a quarterback. Maybe he have better backup players.

- You're getting soft. You're getting soft. He's getting older. He's losing--

- Mike McCarthy said it. I mean, Mike said this is part of football.

HOST: Of course.

- Everybody has to deal with injuries, and this is--

WHITLOCK: Aaron Rodgers agree with me. That's why he was yelling at Anthony [INAUDIBLE].