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Ex-NFL star takes issue with Tom Brady’s critical words of league’s play: ‘He hasn’t been retired that long’

Barry Sanders wasn’t the only one who pushed back on Tom Brady’s critical assessment of today’s NFL.

Three-time Pro Bowl quarterback Alex Smith pushed back on Brady’s description of the product on the field. While Brady pointed out the so-called “mediocrity” on the field, Smith took the opposite approach.

“First off, he hasn’t been retired that long. He was just playing. He just won a Super Bowl in the current game – is he discounting that one?” Smith started.

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“My biggest complaint with this, and no offense to you guys – well, all three of you guys,” he said while pointing to his ESPN colleagues Randy Moss, Tedy Bruschi and Rex Ryan, “he played in the most uncompetitive division, I think, in NFL history.”

He described the AFC East when Brady played with the New England Patriots as a “cupcake division.”

“You got a ticket to the playoffs right away, talk about mediocre,” Smith added. “I completely disagree with this. I know he’s referencing the rule changes over the middle of the receiver but in my opinion, I think that game has gotten better.”

Brady appeared on “The Stephen A. Show” and took to task the “mediocrity” that he has seen in the NFL.

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“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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The former Patriots and Tampa Bay Buccaneers star 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.

“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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