The game of football has changed a lot over the course of Tom Brady’s 23-year NFL career. And he doesn’t seem all that impressed with what the league has put on the field of late.
“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL. I don’t see the excellence that I saw in the past,” Brady said during his appearance on “The Stephen A. Smith Show.” “I don’t see the excellence I saw in the past. I think the coaching isn’t 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 get into the actual performance of the game. So, I just think the product in my opinion is less than what it’s been.”
There have been a lot of questionable roughing the passer calls this season that probably wouldn’t have been called just a few years ago. Brady mentioned Ray Lewis, Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott all made hits while they were playing that “would have been a penalty” in today’s game.
“You hear coaches complaining about their own player being tackled and … why don’t they talk to their player about how to protect himself?,” Brady said to Smith. “We used to work on the fundamentals of those things all the time. Now they’re trying to be regulated all the time.”
“It’s really hard to figure out the strike zone, especially with a moving player,” Rodgers said. “I think we’ve created bad habits with some of the reads and zero fear of throwing over the middle. I think some of the quarterbacks are getting rewarded for sliding late at times and taking very light shots that become 15-yard penalties.”
Both quarterbacks suffered severe injuries on tackles during their careers that helped change the NFL rules. Brady’s torn ACL led to low tackles not being allowed, while Rodgers’ 2017 fractured collarbone resulted in a body-weight division in the roughing the passer rule where defenders can’t land on a quarterback with his full body weight.
So while there is a little irony in both players’ comments, their points remain valid. For better or for worse, the rules of football have changed. It’s up to the players how they adapt in order to avoid getting a flag thrown their way.