Church vows payback within rules

ByTim MacMahon ESPN logo
Thursday, January 1, 2015

IRVING, Texas -- The overturned suspension of Ndamukong Suh has dominated this week's NFL news cycle, but another cheap shot by a current Detroit Lions player has been a subject of discussion among Dallas Cowboys defenders.

Cowboys safety Barry Church vowed to seek legal payback on Lions receiver Golden Tate, who, while playing for the Seattle Seahawks in September 2012, laid out Dallas linebacker Sean Lee on an illegal blindside block.

"That was the dirtiest shot I've ever seen," Church said during his weekly radio show on 105.3 The Fan in Dallas. "We were talking about it on the way back from Washington, me and Sean. He was just like, 'Man, I wish I could play so bad in this game just to give a little payback for what he did in Seattle.'

"Obviously he can't play, but we're definitely going to keep our radar out for [Tate] because that was a dirty shot. We're looking forward to seeing him. We'll definitely get him back after that, but it will be within the rules, within the rules."

Lee has spent the entire season on injured reserve because of a knee injury suffered on the first day of organized team activities in May.

The hit on Lee in Seattle's 27-7 win led to a $21,000 fine for Tate, who peeled back during a Russell Wilson scramble and launched himself into the pursuing linebacker, striking Lee in the chest and chin with the crown of his helmet. Lee landed on his back after the spectacular collision and stayed on the ground for several seconds.

As Lee collected his senses, Tate further angered the Cowboys by flexing his biceps and strutting in celebration of the hit.

"Crackback hits, that's not a definition of toughness," Lee said the following week. "A definition of toughness is hitting, squaring up, being able to do your job as hard as you can every single play. That's at least what I believe. Anybody can crackback block."

Church also chimed in on the incident that ultimately resulted in a $70,000 fine for Suh, saying that it's unacceptable to deliberately attempt to injure an opponent, as Suh appeared to do by stepping on the left leg of Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

"Yeah, you're trying to deliver a painful blow, as legal as possible -- but when the guy is down and you're stepping on people ..." Church said. "And like you said, he had a track record of that, stepping on people when they're down. That's uncalled for. We don't need that in our game. But hey, I guess if you can pay the money, you can play."

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