Remember a few years ago when Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie called Patriots quarterback Tom Brady an "a--hole"? This week, rookie defensive end Sheldon Richardson was slightly more nuanced in his assessment of Brady, when he insinuated that the NFL babies the New England future Hall of Fame passer.
"Why do we make rules after he gets hurt?" Richardson asked during an interview with the New York Post. "I don't know why a bunch of stuff.
"They made the tuck rule back when, [in] 2000? [And the] Tom Brady rule, right? OK, a lot of great quarterbacks have hurt a knee before, but now we can't hit quarterbacks in the knees because Tom Brady [suffers a season-ending knee injury in the 2008 season opener]," Richardson said. "Doesn't it seem that way? Right or wrong?"
And why would the league want to protect Brady?
"Because if you take Tom Brady away from the Patriots, they win no more championships," Richardson said.
Two things worth noting: 1) The back page of Friday's Post:
I liked the subtle, understated tone the Post took with Tom Brady on our back page today. pic.twitter.com/Zk7vxjLITh— Bart Hubbuch (@HubbuchNYP) October 18, 2013
And 2) The Pats' last Super Bowl title came in February 2005, some three-and-a-half years before Brady tore his ACL and missed 15 games of the '08 season. (Also: The tuck rule was introduced in 1999 and abolished before the 2013 season.)
Specifics aside, Richardson's overarching point remains: Safeguards are in place to protect quarterbacks, but even among that group, Brady enjoys special status.
"That's the way it looks like to me, man, you can't touch him," Richardson said.
And the rookie has some experience with that.
"I remember a play [during the Week 2 Jets-Pats game], a referee made it his business to tell me I was too close to hitting him," Richardson said, adding: "It gets crazy out there. I got close to him, shoved him a little bit, the referee said, 'I could've threw the flag on you for that.'"
"He didn't even fall," Richardson pointed out to the official.
"It doesn't matter," was the response, according to Richardson.