Despite the social media trolls, Anthony Barr is excelling in 2017

(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Anthony Barr - Minnesota Vikings
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images) Anthony Barr - Minnesota Vikings /

The resurgence of the Minnesota Vikings linebacker in 2017 has been a vital component of the team’s surprising success this season.

Although Minnesota Vikings linebacker Anthony Barr was a Pro Bowler in 2016, Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer questioned Barr’s work ethic during the year and a once hopeful season ended up turning a bit sour. But from the beginning of the 2017 season, the linebacker has been a more consistent, disruptive member of a Minnesota defensive unit that is among the NFC’s best in points allowed this year.

Barr has also caught his fair share of hostility this season for one play in particular. During the Week 6 matchup between the Vikings and the Green Bay Packers, the linebacker drove Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers into the ground after an incomplete roll-out pass attempt. The hit landed Rodgers on injured reserve with a broken collarbone until at least Week 15.

The contact took place outside the pocket, was well within the rulebook, and Barr was neither flagged nor fined for the play that has sent Green Bay’s season into a tailspin. Meanwhile, Minnesota has taken control of the NFC North, seeking their second division title in three years.

The Vikings linebacker has already responded to Rodgers’ slanderous claims regarding their encounter following the play in question. The teams meet again Week 16 at Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, and it’ll be a barrel of ‘boos’ whenever Barr’s name is announced.

While Minnesota has taken advantage of the Packers’ woes without their star quarterback, many of Rodgers’ fans have voiced their displeasure with Barr through Twitter (most are NSFW).

Oh, the spoils of the internet. These tweets feel like Sunday banter within your fantasy league’s group chat.

While it’s one thing to berate your close friends with wishes of ill-being, it’s quite another to fume bile like this at a stranger (a 6-foot-5, 255 pound stranger at that) just doing his job.

Minnesota Vikings
Minnesota Vikings /

Minnesota Vikings

Barr has taken a bold new approach in dealing with haters. Rather than “stooping” or engaging fully with those expecting anonymity in their insults, he’s decided to quote their “trolling” for all his fans and followers to see.

It’s a clever strategy, not giving the initial tweet the confrontation they were most likely seeking, but rather exposing them as the grumpy, ill-informed, low-brow “comedians” they believe themselves to be.

Whether or not they deserve the recognition online (albeit via adverse lighting) is another story. Some people are simply looking for acknowledgment at any costs. However, the quiet response from the Vikings linebacker punctuates the spitefulness of these messages. Hopefully this tactic discourages similar hateful replies in the future.

Barr isn’t the only athlete to encounter unwarranted hatred on Twitter, but he has found an interesting way to combat it. This could possibly act as a template for fellow athletes tired of dealing with a constant stream of negativity on their various social media platforms.

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Fortunately, the Minnesota linebacker has yet to take these tweets with him onto the field. If anything, he’s channeled the negative vibes from triggered fans and churned out one of the most productive seasons of his young career so far.