RGIII Thinks Tom Brady Started Buccaneers-Saints Brawl on Purpose: ‘Always Playing Chess, Not Checkers’
One of the most prominent highlights (or lowlights in this case) from the NFL Week 2 slate was the brawl between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New Orleans Saints. It started with Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady jawing with Saints cornerback Marshon Lattimore. It ended with Bucs wider receiver Mike Evans setting off a full-scale fight by pushing the New Orleans CB to the ground. On Monday Night Countdown, former NFL QB Robert Griffin III suggested the incident might not have been as spontaneous as it looked. RGIII thinks the whole thing was a calculated move by Brady to help motivate his team.
The Buccaneers and Saints brawled on Sunday
The Buccaneers vs. Saints rivalry is the most intense in the NFC South in recent years. One of the two teams has won the division the last six consecutive seasons.
The Saints are also the only divisional rival Tom Brady hadn’t beat as a Buccaneer coming into the 2022 Week 2 matchup.
Early in the fourth quarter of a 3-3 game, the Saints stopped a Buccaneers drive on 3rd-down to force a punt. As Brady walked to the sideline, he said something to Marshon Lattimore that made the Pro Bowl CB turn around and come back at the QB.
This led to some pushing and shoving between Lattimore and Leonard Fournette, and then Mike Evans ran into the scrum and pushed Lattimore to the ground, setting off a full-scale fight between the two teams.
Referees ejected both Lattimore and Evans from the game with 12:49 left to play.
After the ejections, the Buccaneers defense picked-off Saints QB Jameis Winston on the next three drives, which led to a Tampa Bay offensive touchdown, a field goal, and a pick-six.
The Buccaneers won the game 20-10.
RGIII says he believes Tom Brady started the brawl on purpose
On Monday Night Countdown the next night, the Buccaneers-Saints fight was one of the hottest topics of conversation from the Sunday that was.
After showing the brawl, host Suzy Kolber asked the Countdown crew, “who do you think instigated this?”
The show’s newest co-host, Robert Griffin III, responded, “I’m going to go with Tom Brady.”
The former signal-caller’s argument was that Brady said something to Lattimore, knowing full well that “anytime someone messes with your quarterback, all bets are off.” After that, RGIII added, Evans’ situation was just a case of “when keeping it real goes wrong.”
The 2012 No. 2 overall pick also said that he believes Brady knew exactly what he was doing:
I think Tom Brady actually did this to give his team a spark. Because they turned around after that and went on a run. He’s always playing chess, not checkers, guys.Robert Griffin III on Tom Brady
Whether Brady started the dustup on purpose or just in the heat of the moment, the move worked in the short term. However, Brady and the Buccaneers now have to deal with the long-term ramifications.
The brawl cost the Buccaneers Mike Evans
While RGIII might be right about Tom Brady being the instigator of the Bucs-Saints fight on Sunday, the NFL saw it a little differently when it came to handing out discipline. The only post-game punishment handed out was a one-game suspension for Mike Evans.
NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo reports that Evans is appealing his suspension, but as of now, he will miss the Buccaneers Week 3 matchup vs. Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
Missing Evans, a receiver who’s caught 152 balls for 2,173 yards and 28 touchdowns in the last two-plus seasons with Tom Brady, hurts the Buccaneers offense, for sure.
To ease the pain, though, Tampa Bay is signing veteran free agent WR Cole Beasley.
Beasley last played for the Buffalo Bills in the 2021 season, when he caught 82 balls for 693 yards and one TD. The Bills cut the wideout this offseason after the emergence of several young receivers and (possibly) because of the distractions he caused last season with his staunch and very public anti-vaccine stance last year.
Beasley won’t be able to fully replace Evans production, as the suspended WR is a true No. 1. However, Beasley’s slot route-running acumen is a style that Brady has had great success throwing to in the past. The former SMU Mustang is reminiscent of past favorite Brady targets like Wes Welker, Danny Amendola, and Julian Edelman.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference