Richard Sherman thought Barry Church's hit on Rob Gronkowski was fine

The hit that knocked New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski was penalized and seemed like a textbook helmet-to-helmet hit, but Seattle Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman had no problem with it.

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Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church hit Gronkowski in the head on a seam route, and Gronkowski immediately went back to the locker room as part of the concussion protocol. He was officially ruled out early in the fourth quarter. But Sherman voiced a common complaint: Church either had to hit him high, or go low and risk taking out Gronkowski’s knee.

Buffalo Bills rookie cornerback Tre’Davious White also chimed in. You might recall that White was the player who Gronkowski delivered a cheap shot to in the regular season, triggering a one-game suspension.

There’s no question that defenders are put in a tough spot when it comes to defending plays like the one Gronkowski got hurt on. As Sherman said, the decision has to be made in a split second. And there’s a small area to aim for that’s legal. But the NFL doesn’t want hits to the head anymore, and it is going to penalize them.

And the debate about what defenders should do is never going to go away.

New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, rear, is hit by Jacksonville Jaguars safety Barry Church (42) as he breaks up a pass during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/David J. Phillip)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at or follow him on Twitter!

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