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Stephen A. Smith says Tom Brady's sideline outbursts would be viewed differently if he were black

Alex Reimer
December 04, 2017 - 1:03 pm

Tom Brady shrugged off his shouting match with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels following the Patriots’ win over the Bills Sunday. ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith says Brady can afford to do that because he’s white. 

Brady exploded at McDaniels after an incompletion on 3rd-and-11 ended a Patriots drive late in the first quarter. Tony Romo speculated Brady was irritated McDaniels had pointed out the quarterback’s missed throw on the previous play. Brady declined to elaborate on the spat postgame, and praised McDaniels on “Kirk & Callahan” Monday. 

"Josh has had some opportunities and anytime you are a great coach like him you are going to get them," Brady said. "It’s just a matter of time for Josh to get that opportunity and he certainly deserves it. No one works harder than him, or is more prepared. Josh is a phenomenal coach. I am lucky to be with him for all these years and I always hope we’re together.”

Brady’s argument with McDaniels has been chalked up as one of those in-game outbursts that happens routinely on football sidelines across the country. In 2011, Brady also infamously screamed at then-offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien during a “Monday Night Football” game. 

According to Smith, Brady would be considered an angry hothead if he were black. “It was a big deal, only from this perspective: if (Brady) were black, we would be going off about it,” Smith said on “First Take” Monday. “The fact is, Tom Brady –– he's had outbursts on the sidelines before. It is absolutely, positively no big deal to me. In the heat of action, when you're on the sideline and you're going off, I understand that comes with it. In no way am I trying to excoriate Tom Brady. What I am attacking is the inconsistency of ‘Joe’ or ‘Suzie Public’ out there who would be quick to denigrate a black athlete if he was on the sideline acting that way. He would be cited for insubordination; he would be perceived as being completely out of control –– temper tantrums. 'Maybe he has some anger management issues and needs to take a course' or something along those lines. But when Tom Brady does it, well 'that's Tom Brady.’”

The New York Daily News’ Chuck Modi brought up a similar point on Twitter Sunday, comparing the perception of Brady to Cowboys wideout Dez Bryant. Four years ago, Bryant was ripped for a sideline outburst, only for audio of the incident to reveal he was pumping up his teammates. Despite those facts, Bryant is still considered hot-tempered. 

On the “First Take” set, co-host and ex-Eagles QB Donovan McNabb also brought up the criticism Cam Newton received for his fight with Panthers coach Ron Rivera last month. Newton is probably a bad example, though, given his past. He walked off the podium during his Super Bowl 50 postgame press conference and also directed a sexist slur towards a female reporter earlier this year. Newton has a history of acting unwisely. 

He also doesn’t have five Super Bowl rings like Brady. 

Smith briefly brought up Brady’s on-field success, saying Cardinals QB Blaine Gabbert might be judged more harshly if he screamed at his offensive coordinator. And that’s probably the most important factor here. Brady is the greatest quarterback who ever lived. As a result, he’s granted more leeway than his peers, regardless of their skin color. David Ortiz and Kevin Garnett are two recent players of color whose outbursts were also dismissed, probably because of their success. 

But still, the argument about black athletes being faced with a double-standard is valid to an extent. Smith returned to that point several times during his rant. “I think the white athlete is judged differently than the black athlete when it comes to emotional expressions,” he said. 

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