Tom Brady, considered the greatest player in NFL history and a seven-time Super Bowl champion, said Tuesday that “there’s a lot of mediocrity” in the league.
“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in the NFL today. I don’t see the excellence I saw in the past. I think the training is not that efficient. I don’t think the development of young players is as good as it used to be,” the former Patriots and Buccaneers quarterback said in a YouTube talk show.
Brady, who retired last February after a 23-year career, said the rule changes the league has implemented to punish hard contact, especially defensive contacts, have lowered the level of past decades.
“The rules have allowed a lot of bad habits to creep into the actual performance of the game. So I think the product, in my opinion, is inferior to what it was before,” he complained.
The 46-year-old former quarterback recalled defensive stars such as linebacker Ray Lewis, formerly of the Ravens, and safeties Rodney Harrison, with whom he played on the Patriots, and Ronnie Lott, formerly of the 49ers, who stood out for their efficiency and defensive aggressiveness, but who today would struggle to do their job.
“I look at a lot of former players like Ray Lewis, Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott, and others who impacted the game in a lot of ways, but with every hit they threw today they would have been penalized,” he said. Currently, the NFL severely punishes hits to the quarterback and receivers, a problem for defenders, who sometimes can’t stop because of the speed of each play to avoid contact.
According to the future Hall of Famer, the responsibility for protecting offensive players should lie with the coaches. “You hear coaches complain about their players getting beaten, but why don’t they talk to them about how to protect themselves? We were working on those fundamentals all the time. Today they try to be regulated to protect them, but offensive players must protect themselves without depending on others,” he said.