Tom Brady critical of NFL’s quality of play, college football’s player development

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Tom Brady doesn’t think the quality of NFL play is what it used to be. The seven-time Super Bowl champion expounded on his displeasure with the current product in an interview on ESPN’s “The Stephen A. Smith Show” on Monday. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Brady, 46, said there’s a “lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL” and that he doesn’t see the excellence he saw in the past.
  • The former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers passer criticized a multitude of aspects including coaching, schemes and rule changes protecting players from injury.
  • The retired quarterback also knocked player development in college football.

What Brady said

“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 added how offensive players can play “carefree” because of the rule changes to protect them.

“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 himself? … We used to work on the fundamentals of those things all the time. Now they’re trying to be regulated all the time.”

Brady continued, “Offensive players need to protect themselves. It’s not up to a defensive player to protect an offensive player. A defensive player needs to protect himself. … I think a lot of the way that the rules have come into play have allowed this — you can essentially play carefree and then if anyone hits you hard, there’s a penalty.”

Brady also went after college football’s lack of fundamentals given the propensity of coaching changes.

“I actually think college players were better prepared when I came out than they are now,” Brady said. “Just because so many coaches are changing programs, and I would say there’s not even a lot of college programs anymore. There’s a lot of college teams, but not programs that are developing players.

“So as they get delivered to the NFL, they may be athletic, but they don’t have much of the skills developed to be a professional. When I played at Michigan, I essentially played at a college program that was very similar to a pro environment. When I see these different players come in, they’re not quite as prepared as they were, and I think the game has shown that over the last 12 to 13 years. I think things have slipped a little bit.”

Required reading

(Photo: Maddie Meyer / Getty Images)

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