It’s time for everyone to gather around because old grandpa Tom Brady has something to tell us about what the NFL was like back in the day.
Brady recently visited Stephen A. Smith’s YouTube show and lamented the quality of play in the NFL, which he played in less than 365 days ago.
“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL. I don’t see the excellence that I’ve seen in the past,” Brady said. “I think the coaching is not as good as it was. I don’t think the development of young players is as good as it was. The rules have allowed a lot of bad habits to creep into the actual performance of the game. “So I just think the product, in my opinion, is worse than what it was before.”
Brady went on to mention several NFL greats who achieved great success in the past and lamented that these hits are now considered too violent. Brady believes coaches should teach players to protect themselves instead of playing less violently.
“I look at a lot of players like Ray Lewis, Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott and people who influenced the game in a certain way and any goal they would have taken would have been a penalty,” he said. “You hear coaches complaining about their own player being attacked and…why don’t they talk to their player about how to protect himself? We used to work on the fundamentals of these things all the time. Now they’re trying to regulate them all the time.
Then Brady said something really interesting about being a quarterback during that violent time in the NFL, which he also talked about in 2021.
“Offensive players have to protect themselves. It is not a defensive player’s job to protect an offensive player. A defensive player has to protect himself. I didn’t throw the ball in certain areas because I was afraid that players would get knocked out.” . That’s the reality. I didn’t throw it in the middle when I played against Ray Lewis because he would put them out of the game and I couldn’t afford to lose a good player.”
Although Brady believed the NFL was weak today, he admitted he intentionally adjusted his plans so his receivers wouldn’t be thrown out of the game after taking a devastating hit from a legend like Lewis. He doesn’t fully understand that today’s “softer” NFL allows quarterbacks to make these throws to a defending receiver without fear of a game-ending (or season-ending) hit.
Brady may also have forgotten an element of today’s “mediocre” NFL that actually benefited him: the rough passer calls. In his final years in the game, even accidental, non-violent contact with Brady triggered a harsh passer penalty. It made him untouchable and probably helped him extend his career until he was 45. Maybe next time he’ll want to remember that he’s frustrated by the lack of big hits from guys who aren’t quarterbacks.