The resume New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has built over the years has surely placed him in Canton once he decides to hang it up and could possible walk away as the greatest QB to ever play the game (sorry Peyton). But where would Brady be if one play back in the 2001 Divisional Playoff game against the Oakland Raiders went the other way, former Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis feels he would be just another average QB in the league and would have easily been forgotten.
Here’s what Lewis said in a recent radio interview with ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith on Mad Dog Radio on SiriusXM:
“…the only reason we know Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule.”
He would continue on saying: “They don’t go to that championship game if that ball [isn’t] called a tuck. That’s a fumble. That man clearly fumbled that ball. And they named it a tuck rule–something we never heard in today’s game. So now you’ve got to ask yourself: When did the legacy really start?”
(Quote from Fox Sports)
That’s truly a bold statement to say by Lewis, I mean we’re talking about a guy who is a three time Super Bowl champion, been to the Super Bowl five time and on the verge for his sixth trip, has been a two-time Super Bowl MVP, won the league MVP award twice and is fifth all-time in both passing yards and touchdowns. To say that he’s not one of the best is almost blasphemous (my “big” word for the day).
But, it’s not like Ray is wrong if you really think about it, where would he be without that tuck rule? Heck where would all those Super Bowl wins come from without the leg of Adam Vinatieri? You want to know what I think?
First let break down what would have happened if the tuck rule didn’t come to play that night.
OK, so it’s a snowy night up in Foxborough, Mass., the Raiders are up 13-10 with 2:06 left in the game. Patriots are moving, Brady takes the snap and pump the ball once, at this point Charles Woodson hits Brady and the ball pops out and is recovered by the Raiders. The refs go under the booth and comes back out and confirms the fumble, giving the ball and ultimately the game to the Raiders, sending them to the AFC championship game against the Steelers.
Brady doesn’t win, doesn’t get to the Super Bowl to start the Patriot’s dynasty and the tuck rule is never created, but what else would come of this change in history.
Well for starters, Jon Gurden doesn’t get traded to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and they don’t eventually go on to win Super Bowl 37 because they don’t have that leadership Gurden brought over from Oakland. The Raiders move on to beat the Steelers and get to the Super Bowl against the Rams and more than likely lose to the Rams’ “Greatest Show on Turf” offense.The Bucs would most likely make to Super Bowl 37 the following year against (you guessed it) Gurden and the Raiders, which the Raiders would have won due to their high-powered offense and the fact that Gurden never brought his offensive mindset to Tampa to help them fully get over the hump that had held them back for years under Tony Dungy, who is now in Indy. Gurden gets his ring, stays in Oakland and the Raiders never tank (but probably do eventually because their the Raiders, c’mon son!)
As for the Patriots, Tom Brady would probably lose his starting job to Drew Bledsoe, who was the starter the previous year before going down with an injury and New England probably never gets a ring, the legend of Tom Brady never kicks off (at least not in New England) and could even give a certain QB up in Indy all those SB rings he missed out on due to his duels with Brady in the playoffs, cementing him as the greatest QB of all time (too bad it’s all make-believe, huh Peyton?)
Here’s another thought to thin about, how good would Brady be without Bill Belichick and his system in New England. Remember, Belichick had huge success in Cleveland before they moved to Baltimore at the end of the 1995 season, what if the Browns and Belichick stay in Cleveland and Belichick select Brady again in the sixth round in the 2000 draft or even he is still selected by New England. Would he still be the same guy? Would the players around him (either in Cleveland or a Belichick-less New England) help elevate his play? Or would the “Brady 6” of that draft class (including Brady) be dubbed as the worst QB draft class in history?
What a difference one call has made on this league.