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Packers' Barnett sees red after poke in the eye

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THOMAS J. MILLER
December 10, 2007
— There was a time when the Oakland Raiders struck fear in football teams.

With menacing players such as Ben Davidson, Jack Tatum and George Atkinson, Raider games often had as many fights as a dive bar on payday.


These days, the NFL has made it clear that goons will be fined and/or suspended, and the Raiders have been so bad that it’s difficult to develop a strong hatred toward them.


Then came the second quarter of Sunday’s Packer game against the Raiders in Lambeau Field. With less than a minute left in the half, Oakland quarterback Josh McGown completed a short pass to Jerry Porter cutting across the middle for a 20-yard gain.


Back near the line of scrimmage, some pushing and shoving took place. Suddenly, Packer linebacker Nick Barnett stumbled out of the fray.


“It felt like I got poked in the eye,” Barnett said.


It felt that way because he WAS poked in the eye—by Oakland center Jeremy Newberry.


Barnett went to his knees and put his hands to his eye.


“I wasn’t going to start fighting and looking around,” Barnett said. “I wanted to make sure my eye was still in my face.”


Once that was confirmed, Barnett was enraged.


“He started it,” the 6-foot-2, 232-pound Barnett said. “I was on the ground, and he ran by me, kneed me in the head and etc. So I get up and try to find out what’s going on.


“Next thing I know, he lines it up like the Three Stooges and pokes me in the eye,” Barnett said. “Which is garbage.”


Newberry is 6-foot-5, weighs 315 pounds and has been in the league for 10 years. Barnett didn’t know Newberry’s name, but definitely got his number (62).


“It was definitely on purpose,” Barnett said. “That’s not part of the game. That was uncalled for.”


Barnett, who is having an All-Pro-type season for the Packers, left the game and went to the locker room before the half was over. He said he sat away from the rest of the team during halftime to cool off.


“When you get poked in the eye, you want to take it out to the parking lot,” Barnett said. “That’s personal.”


Newberry told several Packer defensive linemen that it was an accident and he was sorry. Barnett didn’t want to hear it.


Referee Ed Hochuli talked to the Packer defensive players when they came onto the field for the second half, apparently to head off any retaliation.


Barnett finished with seven solo and three assisted tackles to lead the Packer defense.


“I told myself, ‘I’m not going to get dirty. I’m just going to go out there and play a good game,’” Barnett said.


Barnett said the initial prognosis was a scratched cornea. He was scheduled to see the eye doctor after he met with reporters. He said the eye didn’t hurt, but that he had double vision.


But he also had a cap and T-shirt proclaiming the Packers as NFC North champions. That is something Oakland won’t see this year.



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