NFL legend Barry Sanders pushes back on Tom Brady's critical assessment of league


NFL legend Barry Sanders pushed back on Tom Brady’s assessment of today’s football.

The former New England Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star quarterback made a harsh assessment of the NFL on a podcast earlier in the week, saying there was a lot of “mediocrity” in the league.

Sanders, a Hall of Fame Detroit Lions running back, disagreed during his appearance on “RG3 and The Ones.”

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Barry Sanders and Tom Brady

Barry Sanders took issue with Tom Brady’s assessment of the NFL. (Getty Images)

“Well, maybe he’s talking about the teams that he played for,” Sanders said as he laughed. “But the team that I played for? No, it’s anything but mediocre. I thought I saw that comment somewhere and hey look, for us as Lions fans, maybe I just have blinders on because of how we’re leading the division, how well we’re playing. But I still see a great product. I still see great, great teams and a very popular game.”

The Patriots are 2-8 this season while the Buccaneers are 4-6. Tampa Bay is the only team out of the two that are in contention for a division title. Sanders’ Lions dropped to 8-3 with a Thanksgiving Day loss to the Green Bay Packers.

Sanders said he would like to understand Brady’s point of view more.

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Barry Sanders watches Lions-Seahawks

Barry Sanders walks on the field before the game between Lions and Seahawks at Ford Field on Sept. 17, 2023, in Detroit. (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

“I would listen to anything he has to say, and I’d have to get into more detail what he actually is referring to. But hey look, I think this is like the greatest product, the greatest thing we’ve ever seen as Lions fans. So I’m gonna enjoy this for a while.”

Brady made his initial remarks on “The Stephen A. Smith Show.”

“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL. I don’t see the excellence that I saw in the past,” Brady said. “I think the coaching isn’t as good as it was. I don’t think the development of young players is as good as it was. 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 used an example of how defensive players are being regulated. He said the hits legends would have made when he played would have been penalized in today’s game.

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He said it is not up to the defensive player to protect offensive players. They should be taught how to protect themselves.

“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,” he said. “You hear coaches complaining about their own player being tackled and… 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.

Barry Sanders watches Lions-Seahawks

Sanders, a Hall of Fame Detroit Lions running back, disagreed with Brady during his appearance on “RG3 and The Ones.” (Nic Antaya/Getty Images)

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“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 didn’t throw the ball to certain areas because I was afraid players were going to get knocked out. That’s the reality. I didn’t throw it to the middle when I played Ray Lewis because he’d knock them out of the game and I couldn’t afford to lose a good player.”



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