By the time reporters entered the Patriots’ locker room on Sunday, wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson was on his way out, clutching his travel bag as he prepared to make an exit to the team bus waiting across the hallway.
He politely declined to answer questions until one reporter, Christopher Price of the Boston Sports Journal, asked if, um, he’d seen the video. Patterson wasn’t sure what he was talking about.
Another reporter nearby happened to have it cued up on his phone and showed it to Patterson, confirming that, indeed, CBS had zoomed into the end of a seemingly innocuous fourth-quarter play to find Patterson firmly gripping the area right in between Jets DE Henry Anderson’s legs—a normally unseen, but sometimes utilized weapon for getting someone off you in an end-of-play scrum.
“Aw man, they’re trying to do me like that?” Patterson said. “I gotta answer questions now.”
He went on…
“[Anderson] put his sh-- in my face, so I was trying to get his ass up off me,” Patterson said. “Simple as that.”
He added: “I’m a grown man. I don’t need nobody’s ass and dick and balls in my face.”
For years, players have been both celebrated and vilified for their exploits during football pile-ups. Patterson’s method of choice, along with “eye-gouging, biting, kicking, punching and choking,” are not uncommon, according to a story done by the Associated Press back in 2010. The Seattle Times once wrote about the practice of “fish hooking,” which involves trying to pull a player’s lip out. Bill Romanowski used to spit on people.
Back in 2016, Clemson’s Christian Wilkins was criticized heavily for doing something similar against Ohio State’s Curtis Samuel, though he deemed it “silly.” A teammate, Ben Boulware, said it was part of his regular repertoire. Others called it sexual assault.
Through the game’s formative, wild-west years, these were merely stories passed from one player to another. But as Patterson and Anderson quickly learned, that’s not the case in this age where social media captures almost everything. Within seconds of the play happening (and CBS airing it), it was pasted on Twitter. Both parties had reporters waiting for them after the game.
For Anderson’s part, he chuckled when shown Patterson’s response. He did not know initially how in-depth the moment was shown on TV. Following a short Patterson carry to the right side, Anderson tried to make a high tackle, eventually bringing Patterson down like a wrestler burying their opponent’s head into the mat. The CBS camera switched angles and shows three consecutive seconds of Patterson grabbing Anderson. Anderson rolls off, and Patterson stands over him. The two appear to exchange words before heading back to the huddle.
“I mean, little stuff like that happens all the time, not necessarily stuff like that, but, there’s a lot of stuff that you’d have to have a camera right on,” Anderson said. “You wouldn’t be able to see it from the TV copy.”
He was told that it didn’t look good. Anderson said it didn’t hurt, and that he was trying to get up off Patterson carefully so he didn’t step on him and draw an accidental penalty. At the time, the Jets were trailing by just a touchdown (the Patriots won 27–13).
“If I had felt it, there would have been ... if he had actually grabbed, like—you know, my package there, I probably would have done something,” Anderson said. “But, I didn’t really feel anything. So, I don’t think he got a hold of it.”