Tom Brady Stands up for Bills LB Who Was Punished by the NFL

Andre Smith

Getty Buffalo Bills linebacker Andre Smith sacks Chicago Bears quarterback Justin Fields during a preseason game.

Tom Brady did no favors to the Buffalo Bills during his two decades with the New England Patriots, but the future Hall of Famer offered his former rival a helping hand this week while calling out the NFL’s disparities in punishment.

Appearing on a “Players Chat” segment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers official website, Brady shared his stance on the NFL rules and how much they put the defense at a disadvantage. In doing so, Brady ended up offering a defense for a Bills linebacker who had recently been punished by the league for a controversial hit.

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Brady Backs the Bills

In the segment, Brady noted how much the league has changed to favor offenses and punish defenders for hits that were once legal. He said that it should be incumbent on the quarterback to keep receivers out of danger, and was once considered their fault if they placed the ball in the wrong spot and led a receiver into a hard hit. Now, Brady said, the defense is actually the one on the hook for those mistakes.

“A quarterback should only throw the ball to certain places because your receiver is in danger of getting hit,” Brady said, via The Sporting News. “For example, when I used to play against Ray Lewis, I wouldn’t throw the ball to the middle of the field because … he would hit [our receivers] and knock them out of the game. And now, every hard hit is a penalty on the defense. So I feel like they penalize defensive players for offensive mistakes.”

Brady went on to describe the hit that Bills linebacker Andre Smith laid on Chicago Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields in the teams’ second preseason game. The Bears allowed Smith to come in unblocked and hit Fields so hard that his helmet and armband flew off. Smith was flagged for roughing the passer and later fined $5,806 for the play.

Brady said that it was the fault of the Bears — either a missed blocking assignment by the offensive line or Fields missed the blitzer — but it was the Bills defender who ended up paying the price. The Buccaneers quarterback said the situation is bad for the sport.

“The only thing they’re gonna do is, they’re actually gonna blame the defensive player for making a good, solid hit,” he said. “And now the defensive player is gonna feel like, ‘Oh, I can’t do that, even though I feel like it was an offensive mistake.’ So, in the end, I think it’s really a disservice to the sport because the sport isn’t being played at a high level like I believe that it once was.”

Fields, Smith Addressed Play

The hit itself was controversial, with some others agreeing with Brady that it was more the fault of the offense for allowing Smith to come in unblocked and others calling out the Bills linebacker for hitting Fields too high. As NBC Sports’ Pro Football Talk noted, Fields said he was fine after the play and only hurt by the helmet that came off his head and hit him in the eye.

Smith took to Twitter to offer something of a tongue-in-cheek apology, appearing to revel in the hatred from Bears fans and laughing at an Old-West style Wanted poster with his picture on it. The play didn’t end up hurting Smith’s standing with the team, however, as he was among the six linebackers to make the final 53-man roster.

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