Just because he spent the offseason grinning after winning his seventh Super Bowl ring doesn’t mean the three-time NFL MVP is always in a good mood. In fact, the legendary gunslinger recently tore into modern quarterbacks and fired a veiled shot at Fields, the 11th overall pick in April’s draft, in the process.
Tom Brady criticized modern quarterbacks for taking advantage of defensive penalties
The NFL still lived in the heavy-hitting culture two decades ago. ESPN and other TV networks shamelessly promoted Ray Lewis’ bone-crunching tackles that sent a concussed running back to the sidelines. Defensive linemen could still get away with a late hit or three in hopes of knocking an older quarterback out of the game.
Good luck seeing those now. The NFL has embraced player safety, especially at the quarterback position, to the point where those revered hits of decades past have been banned for years.
You’d expect Brady to be grateful for that, right? In a recent video posted on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ website, the seven-time champion said he felt defensive players get penalized for offensive mistakes. The 14-time Pro Bowler added he believes the immediate rush to throw a flag on certain plays sets a bad precedent for young quarterbacks.
“It creates really bad habits for players because you feel like I can basically do anything. I can run and not slide. I can throw my receiver into any coverage and not have any repercussions for it. The only thing they’re gonna do, they’re actually gonna blame the defensive player for making a good, solid hit.”Tom Brady
Although Brady did not specifically name Fields, he described a recent play which ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio believed referred to the rookie quarterback and Buffalo Bills linebacker Andre Smith.
“The quarterback messes up, doesn’t see the blitzer, or the line screws up,” Brady said. “I don’t know what happened, the quarterback or the lineman on offense. The defensive player comes in and hits him hard, and they throw a flag on the defense.”
Brady is showing his age by picking on Fields and the others
Look, there’s a large segment of NFL fans who will agree with Brady. Officials are too quick to throw a flag, which means the art of the football hit is gradually going away. Even a clean, by-the-book tackle can be subject to a personal foul call depending on the official.
It’s not that Brady is wrong, per se. But at the same time, he’s directly benefited from the rules protecting quarterbacks. There’s no guarantee he’d still be playing at a capable, let alone elite, level in his 40s if he still played in an era where defenders didn’t need to fear being penalized.
When Brady made his point, he referenced playing against Lewis and the Ravens in the 2000s. Knowing that the Ravens star delivered such powerful hits and excelled at middle linebacker, the star quarterback knew he needed to call the game differently.
“I wouldn’t throw the ball to the middle of the field because he would . . . hit them and knock them out of the game,” Brady explained.
One could successfully argue that quarterbacks, whether it’s Fields or Los Angeles Chargers star Justin Herbert or any other player, aren’t doing anything wrong in the process. If it’s not an ideal situation, then Brady should gather the defensive stars and take their case to the NFL. But for now, the vast majority of quarterbacks aren’t going to dismiss the current rules, not when those bylaws have an opportunity to help offenses score.
Brady isn’t the first, and won’t be the last, to suggest the NFL has gone soft
In calling out modern quarterbacks, Brady proved he’s becoming a bitter elderly NFL player at heart — no matter what his tweets and viral videos show — in a time when he’s still playing better than almost every other starting signal-caller.
Brady isn’t the first, and he won’t be the last, to suggest the NFL has gone soft to protect offensive players. San Francisco 49ers legend Jerry Rice said earlier this year that he believes he’d “double” all of the statistics he totaled in his career.
“The game really favors the wide receiver now because you can’t put your hands on him,” Rice told Brother From Another. “Linebackers can’t take shots at you coming across the middle anymore.”
If Fields wants an opportunity to prove the seven-time champion wrong, he’ll get his opportunity on Sunday, October 24. Let’s hope Brady is mic’d up and yelling when the Bears rookie takes advantage of Ndamukong Suh tackling just a bit too strongly.