The NFL is missing something besides Tom Brady.
During a recent appearance on “The Stephen A. Smith Show,” the seven-time Super Bowl champion — who retired from the NFL in February after 23 prolific seasons — shredded the current state of the game and how it’s lacking “the excellence that I saw in the past.”
“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL,” Brady said. “I don’t see the excellence that I saw in the past.”
When pressed to elaborate by Smith, 56, the former Patriots and Buccaneers quarterback, 46, pointed to coaching and player development.
“I think the coaching isn’t as good as it was,” Brady said. “I don’t think the development of young players is as good as it was. I don’t think the schemes are as good as they were. 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.”
Brady — who had been discussing the level of preparedness of college athletes entering the pros today versus the past — then explained how former defensive playmakers would have likely been subjected to penalties if they competed now.
“I look at a lot of players like Ray Lewis and Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott, and guys that impacted the game in a certain way, and every hit they would have made would have been a penalty,” Brady said.
“You hear coaches complaining about their own player being tackled and not necessarily, why don’t they talk to their player about how to protect themself: How to get rid of the ball, how to throw it, how to run out of bounds, how to get down, how to lower your pad level. We used to work on the fundamentals of those things all the time. Now they’re trying to be regulated all the time.”
The former quarterback then expressed: “It’s not up to the defensive player to protect the offensive player,” and how the “offensive players need to protect themselves.”
“The defensive player needs to protect themself. He shouldn’t ask the offensive player to protect him.”
The five-time Super Bowl MVP then revealed that when he was playing, he “didn’t throw the ball to certain areas because I was afraid players were going to get knocked out.”
“I didn’t throw it to the middle when I played [ex-Ravens linebacker] Ray Lewis because you knock him out of the game and I couldn’t afford to lose a good player. So, guys like that, the only way to beat skill was physicality.”
Brady played the first 20 seasons of his career in New England, where he won six Super Bowl titles, before taking his talents to Tampa Bay in 2020 for three seasons.
He won what was his final Super Bowl in February 2021.
Though currently on the sidelines, Brady will be transitioning into a new role next fall, when he slides into the Fox Sports booth as the network’s lead NFL analyst.
In the meantime, he’ll be opining on the game from afar.