"Unfortunately this league's going in a direction I think a lot of people don't like. I think they're getting soft," Matthews said following Green Bay's 31-17 loss to the Washington Football team on Sunday. "The only thing hard about this league is the fines they levy down on guys like me who play the game hard."
Here's the hit in question:
And here's the rule the NFL cited for the penalty, which was allegedly instituted because of how Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers broke his collarbone last season when a defender fell on him:
A roughing penalty against Matthews negated an interception that would have sealed a Packers win against the Lions in Week 2, and he's the first player since at least 2001 to be penalized for roughing the passer in each of the season's first three weeks. He's understandably angry about all this, especially because it doesn't seem logical:
"Obviously when you're tackling a guy from the front you're gonna land on him," he lamented. "I understand the spirit of the rule, I said that weeks prior. But when you have a hit like that, that's a football play."
"I even went up to Alex Smith after the game, asked him, 'What do you think? What can I do differently?' Because that's a football play."
The anger and confusion from the Packers side was amplified after Washington lineman Daron Payne appeared to have—in the words of Matthews—"suplexed" Rodgers on a sack, but without a flag making an appearance. Referee Craig Wrolstad couldn't remember the hit after the game.
Packers fans naturally agree with Matthews and even parodied the penalty:
It now begins its journey towards meme-dom: