Maybe it’s because he’s 44 years old and the oldest current player in the NFL, but Tom Brady went into crotchety old man mode about the league rules in a special Bucs Player Chat on Thursday night.
Brady indicated that he preferred the way the NFL used to be played when he entered the league as New England’s sixth-round pick in 2000.
Bucs QB Tom Brady – Photo by: USA Today
“The one thing about football that has changed over the years, which I think is really hard for someone like me, who has played a long time, is hard to watch is … it’s not being taught the right way,” Brady said. “Like a quarterback should only throw the ball to certain places because your receiver is in danger of getting hit. For example, when I used to play against Ray Lewis, I wouldn’t throw the ball to the middle of the field because he would go after you, and he would hit – we didn’t have the biggest receivers, but he would hit them and knock them out of the game. And now, every hard hit is a penalty on the defense. So I feel like they penalize defensive players for offensive mistakes.
“So if a quarterback – I was watching a Chicago Bears game – the quarterback messes up, doesn’t see the blitzer – or the line screws up – I don’t know what happened. It was the quarterback or the linemen on offense. The defensive player comes in and hits him hard and they throw a flag on the defense. So they’ve almost moved the protection of your opponent to you (the defense), as opposed to yourself (the offense), which is where it should be. Like if you’re a quarterback you have to protect yourself and your players. It shouldn’t be the responsibility of your opponent to protect you. It creates really bad habits for players because you basically feel like you can do anything. I can run and not slide. I can throw the ball and put my receiver into any coverage and not have any repercussion for it. What they’re going to do is actually blame the defensive player for making a good solid hit. And now the defensive player is going to think, “Aw, now I can’t do that” even if I think it was an offensive mistake.”
Brady is exactly right. We’ve seen the sissification of the NFL over the last decade with plenty of questionable roughing the passer penalties and hitting a defenseless receiver calls. A similar horrible call robbed Bucs first-round pick Joe Tryon-Shoyinka of his first preseason sack against the Bengals.
Bucs OLB Joe Tryon – Photo by: Cliff Welch/PR
Hall of Fame strong safeties like Steve Atwater and Tampa Bay’s own John Lynch, both of whom used to intimidate across the middle of the field with hard hits, likely wouldn’t even be Pro Bowlers in the modern day NFL. Their games were about doling out physical punishment on receivers, tight ends and running backs who ventured into their territory. Sadly, that is no longer allowed without a yellow flag on the field.
There is a fine line between protecting players’ health and guarding against cheap shots, which are worthy endeavors, and what is taking place in today’s NFL where the rules clearly favor the offense and can take the aggression out of the defense in pass rush and pass coverage. Brady believes the NFL has overreached when it comes to trying to officiate the hard hits out of the game.
“In the end it’s really a disservice to the sport because the sport isn’t being played at a high level like I believe that it once was,” Brady said. “It actually deteriorates, because you’re not teaching the players the reasons and the fundamentals of what the sport should be.”
Watch Brady’s full comments in the clip below.