FOXBORO — Tom Brady has heard the critics, but is not going to be swayed.
On Wednesday, the quarterback remained unapologetic in his feelings over the new rules designed to keep the quarterback safe. Specifically, the “Brady Rule,” a new directive handed down by the league in the offseason that protects signal-callers from defenders who might dive at a quarterback’s knees.
Under the new rule, Baltimore linebacker Terrell Suggs was flagged Sunday, picking up a 15-yard penalty when it appeared he was going for Brady’s knees. Brady sidestepped Suggs and avoided the hit, but turned and gestured to the referee at the end of the play, and celebrated when the flag was thrown.
The penalty — and Brady’s reaction — has sparked a heated debate about whether or not too much is being done to protect the quarterback. Brady didn’t apologize for the calls on Wednesday, and said he doesn’t feel bad about possibly lobbying for a call when it does happen.
“I want the penalty call. I want 15 yards,” Brady said Wednesday. “I don’t care whether they hit me or not. That’s an advantage for our offense. I think you just want to make sure the refs … I go hug the ref before the game, ask about his kids and stuff like that. I’m trying to get him on our side.”
While acknowledging New England was on the “fortunate end of a few” calls this week, Brady was quick to point out that the Patriots have been on the other end of those roughing-the-passer calls a few times this season — three, to be exact. Vince Wilfork, Adalius Thomas and Mike Wright have all picked up roughing the passer calls this season, with Wilfork’s flag coming as part of the “Brady Rule.”
“Whatever they call it, they call it,” Brady said. “We don’t make the rules, we just play by them, and I think we were on the fortunate end of a few of them this week. Other times, we haven’t been. Like I’ve said, in the end, they probably all even out.”
The “Brady rule,” which was passed in the offseason, was a clarification of the current rule on hits to a quarterback in the knee area or below. The ruling specifically prohibits a defender on the ground who hasn’t been blocked or fouled directly into the quarterback from lunging or diving at the quarterback’s lower legs.
Specifically, the fifth provision of Rule 12, Section 2, Article 12 (roughing the passer) states: “A rushing defender is prohibited from forcibly hitting in the knee area or below a passer who has one or both feet on the ground, even if the initial contact is above the knee. It is not a foul if the defender is blocked (or fouled) into the passer and has no opportunity to avoid him.”
Under those rules, the penalty on Suggs was warranted. Nonetheless, it drew the ire of several people, including Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, who called the two roughing the passer penalties on Baltimore Sunday “embarrassing.” Suggs wondered aloud if the NFL was interested in protecting “some quarterbacks more than others.” And former teammate Rodney Harrison said, “Tom Brady, if you're listening — take off the skirt and put on some slacks. Toughen up.”
Brady said Harrison texted him before the former New England made the statement on Sunday night to give him a heads up.
“He sent me a message. I wasn’t watching, and I don’t know what the hell he was talking about. I just ignored it,” Brady said of Harrison’s statements. “Then, I got a bunch of text messages from friends saying, ‘What did Rodney say?’ You know Rodney. Some things never change.”