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Steelers' Minkah Fitzpatrick defends hit on Nick Chubb: 'I'm not a dirty player'

Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb's season-ending knee injury on Monday night was difficult to watch.

The player who caused it has had to process his own set of emotions and deal with the backlash of unintentionally ending the season for one of the NFL's best running backs.

Pittsburgh Steelers safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was the defender who made the tackle on Chubb, going low on the bruising running back at the worst possible time, resulting in a significant knee injury for Chubb. He was asked about the play -- and the ensuing fallout -- Thursday.

"It's very unfortunate. It's a tough, tough injury," Fitzpatrick said, per "Unfortunately, part of the game that we play. I know there's people that (thought I) had ill will behind the tackle. It's not the case whatsoever.

"I'm a guy that's a competitor who's going to go out there and play the game. I'm chippy. I'm edgy, of course, but I'm not a dirty player. I'm not going to sit here and defend my character. I know the type of player I am. Chubb knows the type of player I am. I've played against him a bunch in the past. Five years, two times a year. I love competing against him. He brings the best out of me, and I bring the best out of him."

Fitzpatrick's tackle was nothing more than a smaller defender making the decision to attempt to bring a player down without subjecting himself to the full force of a powerful running back. As the saying goes in football, low man wins. But some Browns-leaning folks saw the hit as being intentionally dangerous, especially after realizing how it had injured Chubb.

Fitzpatrick pushed back on such a notion on Thursday.

"No chance that I would ever try to purposefully injure somebody. Unfortunate event," Fitzpatrick said. "We play a physical game. People get hurt, and you know, people sit behind a screen and tell me how I shoulda done it or what they would have done and they've never played the game. It's a fast game. Things happen.

"Like I said, it's an unfortunate event. Praying for Chubb. I talked to him briefly as he was on the ground. Just let him know that it wasn't intentional. I was just trying to tackle him -- make a football play."

Chubb's injury is far from the first time in which a low tackle produced an unfortunate result. Folks can think back to the 2003 BCS National Championship Game played between Ohio State and Miami, when Buckeyes safety Will Allen went low on running back Willis McGahee, and unintentionally injured McGahee.

Unlike then, the folks in the television truck knew better than to show the slow-motion replay of Chubb's injury.

These things are part of a high-speed, full-contact sport played among the most elite athletes on the planet. It would be unfair to expect every defender to make a "safe" tackle in every situation, from every angle. It's just not possible -- and defensive players have to look out for themselves, too.

"I would say, one: they've never tackled Nick Chubb before if they're telling me to go high," Fitzpatrick explained. "Two: What I seen was it opened up, it's goal line. I didn't see anybody on him. I made the decision as soon as I seen the hole open up and him in the hole to go low.

"You can tell me how to tackle him low, but it's a fast game. It's a game (where) you make decisions in milliseconds. Can't really control what happens after you choose to make your decision. I already chose to go low. Somebody got on his back when I was going low, and what happened happened. There's nothing I really would do differently. Again, like I said earlier, it's very unfortunate. Nick Chubb's a great player. He makes the game a lot better when he's playing. Just hope for a speedy recovery."

Browns safety Grant Delpit -- another player who knows all too well about the physical nature of the game -- didn't pin blame on Fitzpatrick.

"It's football, man," Delpit said on Thursday, per "I can't say what I woulda did in that moment. I'm sure he didn't mean any harm -- to do any harm -- to Nick, or anything thing like that. It was just a crazy football play, to be honest. A play can go 1,000 ways every play. You never know. It's just tough playing this sport sometimes."

It is undoubtedly tough, and requires the toughest individuals to produce long, successful careers. Even those careers sometimes include unlucky outcomes like the one Chubb experienced on Monday night.

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