Cliff Avril responds to backlash over hit that injured Tony Romo

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Frank Schwab
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You’ve seen the replay by now, especially since we learned Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo has a fractured vertebrae in his back and will likely miss a significant portion of the season.

Romo was sliding down when he was hit by Seattle Seahawks defensive end Cliff Avril from behind, and then Romo writhed around in pain. Cowboys fans noticed and they have let Avril know they didn’t like the hit.

“I’m definitely surprised,” Avril said, according to the Tacoma News Tribune. “The Cowboys fans have been sending a lot of hate mail — well, not ‘hate mail’ — but a lot of crazy tweets. But I don’t pay too much attention to it.”

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Avril has maintained his innocence. He says he wasn’t trying to hurt Romo, and after Thursday’s game he tweeted this:

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If there’s any reason for Cowboys fans (or Romo) to be upset, it’s that Romo was already going down when Avril hit him from behind. But Avril was going full speed at Romo and wasn’t going to be able to let up. Avril wasn’t penalized on the play. Avril said he wasn’t even aware Romo was that hurt, because he walked off the field.

Avril said he’s attempting to get a hold of Romo.

“It’s kind of interesting to see how you just think you are making a play on the football field, and so many people think a certain way about it,” Avril said, according to the News Tribune. “But it is what it is. I don’t really care. I’m reaching out to Romo, so it is what it is.”

No matter what you think of the hit, it significantly changed the landscape of the NFC East, and perhaps the entire NFL season. The Cowboys went from having big hopes this season to starting a rookie quarterback for many weeks. There could be larger ramifications from the hit too. Depending on how Dak Prescott performs replacing Romo, and how Romo’s recovery goes, it could end up being a major turning point in Romo’s career with the Cowboys and the Cowboys’ franchise (our Charles Robinson discussed the possibility of Romo not getting his starting spot back when he’s healthy here).

It’s no wonder Cowboys fans are worked up, even if Avril believes he did nothing wrong.

Cliff Avril's hit on Tony Romo will likely knock Romo out for a significant portion of the season (AP)
Cliff Avril’s hit on Tony Romo will likely knock Romo out for a significant portion of the season (AP)

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Frank Schwab is the editor of Shutdown Corner on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at shutdown.corner@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!