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Tom Brady, 44, complains the NFL has been ‘softer’ since he entered the league 21 years ago

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Tom Brady, 44, complains the NFL has been ‘softer’ since he entered the league 21 years ago

  • Tom Brady complained to podcast host Jim Gray that the NFL is softer these days
  • The Bucs quarterback complimented Ravens QB Lamar Jackson and the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes, but said they run the risk of injury from getting out of the bag
  • Brady said pass rushers are nervous about hitting QBs for fear of penalties
  • In 2000, when Brady entered the NFL, league officials cited 75 “roughing the passer” penalties, compared to 134 and 122 in 2019 and 2020, respectively.
  • Concussions have decreased in 2020. According to the league, NFL players suffered 172 last year after recording 224 in 2019, 214 in 2018 and 281 in 2017










Tom Brady, two decades into an NFL career that began during the Clinton administration, thinks the league has finally turned soft.

The 44-year-old Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and reigning Super Bowl MVP says penalties are too often imposed on defensive players in an effort to protect quarterbacks.

“I think now there are a lot of plays and hits on quarterbacks who are flags for defensive players that probably weren’t 10 or 15 years ago,” Brady told former sports host and sideline reporter Jim Gray on a statement. podcast earlier this week. “So I’d say the game is a little softer than it used to be.”

Bucs QB Tom Brady complained to podcast host Jim Gray that the NFL is softer these days

Brady and podcast host Jim Gray were Sunday night's quarterback matchup between the Baltimore Ravens' Lamar Jackson and Brady's Super Bowl LV counterpart, Patrick Mahomes (center) of the Kansas City Chiefs.  Brady was largely complimentary about the pair's performance in the thrilling 36-35 Ravens win.  But while praising their ability to run with the football — something he was famous for doing effectively — he explained that Jackson and Mahomes put themselves at greater risk of injury.

Brady and podcast host Jim Gray were Sunday night’s quarterback matchup between the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Brady’s Super Bowl LV counterpart, Patrick Mahomes (center) of the Kansas City Chiefs. Brady was largely complimentary about the pair’s performance in the thrilling 36-35 Ravens win. But while praising their ability to run with the football — something he was famous for doing effectively — he explained that Jackson and Mahomes put themselves at greater risk of injury.

Brady has rushed the ball 637 times in 303 regular season games, while 24-year-old Lamar Jackson (center) has nearly matched that figure with 510 runs in just 48 appearances

Brady has rushed the ball 637 times in 303 regular season games, while 24-year-old Lamar Jackson (center) has nearly matched that figure with 510 runs in just 48 appearances

Gray and Brady discussed Sunday night’s quarterback matchup between the Baltimore Ravens’ Lamar Jackson and Brady’s Super Bowl LV counterpart, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Brady was largely complimentary about the pair’s performance in the thrilling 36-35 Ravens win. But while praising their ability to run with the football — something he was famous for effectively doing — he explained that Jackson and Mahomes put themselves at greater risk of injury.

By comparison, Brady has rushed the ball 637 times in 303 regular-season games, while 24-year-old Jackson has nearly matched that figure with 510 runs in just 48 appearances.

“So there’s definitely more volatility, I’d say, in that style of play over a period of time you’re definitely more injury prone because you’re out of the bag,” Brady said. ‘You don’t have the kinds of protection you normally carry around.

NFL rules provide more protection for quarterbacks, such as Brady, who stay in the pocket (the area behind the offensive line), as opposed to those who run downfield

NFL rules provide more protection for quarterbacks, such as Brady, who stay in the pocket (the area behind the offensive line), as opposed to those who run downfield

“And I’d say the only thing that’s probably changed over the years in terms of why it’s probably gone a little bit more this way is – I’ve alluded to this in the past – I think they’re going to impose more penalties.” to defensive players for hitting, for violent contact.

“I think the defensive players are more defensive when they tackle. And I think that probably adds to this element of quarterbacks out of pocket and taking more risks than in the past.”

In recent years, the league has changed rules and refocused to reduce head-to-head clashes. In particular, tacklers are prohibited from lowering their helmet and making contact with an opponent’s helmet.

But while quarterbacks may be better protected, defenders have struggled to navigate the rulebook’s revised implementation as penalties for “passing” have increased in recent seasons. (called “Roughing the passer” when a defensive player hits a quarterback after a forward pass is released)

When Brady first entered the NFL in 2000, there were only 75 such full-year penalties. That figure dropped to 58 in 2008, but over the past three seasons, the NFL has averaged 123.3 “passer roughing” flags.

Fortunately, the NFL saw a drop in concussion rates last season, which could be due to schedule changes or reductions in preseason games and full-contact practices.

According to the league, NFL players suffered 172 concussions last year after 224 in 2019, 214 in 2018 and 281 in 2017.

Quarterbacks like Arizona's Kyler Murray (left) have done well under modern NFL service

Quarterbacks like Arizona’s Kyler Murray (left) have done well under modern NFL service

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