Some of you have requested it. Most of you know I wouldn’t keep my mouth shut about it. Ray Lewis has said the dumbest thing so far in this new year.
Lewis made some noise yesterday when he made the claim that no one would know who Tom Brady was if it weren’t for the infamous Tuck Rule in that 2002 playoff blizzard against the Raiders. This was of course coming off of his Baltimore Ravens losing to the New England Patriots just four days prior. Jealous much?
There are numerous errors in Lewis’s statement that I’m not sure where to begin. So, let’s start here:
“When we — the first time we created something called a tuck rule, it’s the only reason we know — I’m just being honest — the only reason we know who Tom Brady is, because of a tuck rule,” Lewis said. “There’s no such thing as a tuck rule! If the ball is in your hand, and I knock it out your hand, whether it’s going backwards, forwards, lateral, sideways, however it’s coming out, that’s a freaking fumble.”
First, there was already a tuck rule. It was created in 1999, the year before Tom Brady was drafted. Did anyone really know what it was until that Blizzard Bowl? I for one did not. But, that doesn’t mean it didn’t exist. So, what happened on that day was very good officiating. It was a referee that knew the rule book up and down and was able to make a call that was in the rule books that a majority of fans, players and coaches didn’t even know existed. That doesn’t make it wrong. That shows the problem with the NFL. I mean come on, Donovan McNabb didn’t even know the rules of overtime!
I do agree with Lewis that the tuck rule is silly, much like what happened to Dez Bryant this past Sunday and Calvin Johnson a few years back. That was a catch, and Rod Woodson forced a fumble, but according to the rules, both calls were correct. Rules are very much like laws. Just because Ray Lewis figured out a way to get around them, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be followed.
Now, to say that because of the tuck rule we would never know Tom Brady is outlandish. In fact, heading into that game, everyone knew Tom Brady. He was the 6th-round draft pick that stepped in for the 0-2 New England Patriots after Drew Bledsoe, one of the best passing quarterbacks in the game was power bombed by Captain Insano. Brady would go on to lead the Pats to an 11-3 record as a mere nobody and was already the feel good story of that season. We all knew who Tom Brady was, and if he had lost that game against the Raiders, we still would.
Think about this? If Jeffrey Maier didn’t not catch that not home run by Derek Jeter, would we have not known The Captain? After all, that was his first postseason, that is what started the heroics of one of the biggest heroes in modern day baseball. It’s unthinkable. Jeter would go on to amass 3,270 more hits after that home run. He would win four more World Series after that 1996 season. May the Yankees fortunes have changed if Maier didn’t catch that home run? Perhaps, but the legend of Derek Jeter would still be the same, much like that of Brady’s.
Maybe if Lewis said the Patriots of today would not be the Patriots had they lost that game, it would resinate as a better, more sound argument. Even still, it wouldn’t have been the first dynasty to start under questionable calls, on the field or off of it. I already mentioned the Maier home run. What about the Immaculate Reception? What if money hungry Harry Freeze didn’t sell Babe Ruth to the Yankees? What if the events of January 31, 2000 were interpreted a little differently and the Ravens never had their star player in their infamous defense? I’m pretty sure the Ravens won their first Super Bowl ever the very next season.
The tuck rule also did not effect the last 13 years of Brady’s illustrious career. Brady’s early career made people wonder if he was simply part of a great system. He was nothing flashy, and certainly no one saw the quarterback in Brady that he would become. He was the face of a team that had many key cogs that would make them champions.
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That all changed in 2007. Brady became the reason the Patriots were so good. How a tuck rule in 2002 could affect the 16-0 season behind a 50 touchdown performance six years later is astonishing. Brady is forever going to be in the greatest of all time conversations, and whether or not he fumbled that ball wouldn’t change that.
The Patriots will always be in a whirl wind of controversy. This isn’t the first time their winning ways have been attacked. They haven’t won a championship since that little Spygate affair, and that has never ceased to haunt them. But if losing an 18-0 season to the lowly Giants didn’t tarnish Brady’s legacy, a peculiar rule certainly wouldn’t either.
There were a few things we learned about Ray Lewis over his Hall of Fame career. He was one of the most gifted athletes to step on the field. He is arguably the greatest linebacker to ever play the game. But he also loves the limelight for himself and his Ravens. Lewis has never steered clear of the spotlight, whether it be his on-field antics or his outspoken comments.
The Ravens, and thus Ray Lewis, lost this past Saturday in Foxboro. That means he and the Ravens will be out of the spotlight until next season, or at least until their next classy player finds themselves in the news for non-NFL affairs. What better way to get back into the limelight than being a jackass? Some players have made a career out of just that.