Tom Brady has valuable insight regarding many things. If you have any questions about how intentionally deflating a football can help you win an AFC Championship Game, or how you can avoid retirement like it’s the plague, he’s your man. Above all else: he’s extremely knowledgeable about the NFL and what makes it great.
The seven-time Super Bowl champion spent 23 years in the league. He saw it all. But now, as the poor guy reluctantly sits on the sidelines with partial team ownership and a $500 million broadcaster deal, he hasn’t enjoyed what he’s seen in the first 11 weeks of our first (proper) post-Tom Brady NFL season.
“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL,” Brady said on The Stephen A. Smith Show.
“I don’t see the excellence that I saw in the past.”
“I don’t think the coaching is as good as it was. I don’t think the development of the young players is as good as it was. The rules have allowed a lot of bad habits to get into the actual performance of the game. I just think the product, in my opinion, is less than what it’s been.”
“I look at a lot of players like Ray Lewis and Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott, guys that impacted the game in a certain way. Every hit they would have made would have been a penalty.”
“You hear coaches complaining about their own player being tackled. Why don’t they talk to their player about how to protect themselves? We used to work on the fundamentals of those things all the time. Now they’re trying to be regulated all the time.”
He continued: “Offensive players need to protect themselves. It’s not up to a defensive player to protect an offensive player. A defensive player needs to protect himself.”
“I didn’t throw the ball to certain areas because I was afraid players were gonna get knocked out. That’s the reality. I didn’t throw it to the middle when I played Ray Lewis because he’d knock them out of the game and I couldn’t afford to lose a good player.”
We’re not insinuating that Tom Brady is saying this with any degree of saltiness; or that he’s diminishing the accomplishments of subsequent NFL players to elevate his own career. He is the consensus greatest player of all time and so far ahead of any real challenger, meaning there’s no real need for this sort of Old Head behaviour.
Though it is fair to point out that while Brady’s comments may hold some weight, he himself benefitted from the same rule changes he’s been so quick to criticise. A lot of these rule changes were designed to protect the quarterback position in particular and allowed him to continue playing it into his mid-40s.
A rule prohibiting defensive players from lunging at a quarterback’s legs has existed since 2009, following an injury that sidelined Tom Brady for the entire 2008 NFL season. It’s literally known as the “Brady Rule.”
In other words, all this change hasn’t exactly occurred in the last 11 weeks alone. The idea that “offensive players need to protect themselves” is not what helped his unprecedented longevity in the sport.