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Does Tom Brady get special ‘roughing’ treatment?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback gets all the plaudits for his throwing arm and decision making on the field, but does his status give him immunity?

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback gets all the plaudits for his throwing arm and decision making on the field, but does his status give him immunity?
Julio AguilarGetty

To some, Tom Brady is a legend. To others, he’s a pest. And though his merits cannot be denied, there are some who argue that he gets special treatment. It’s of course true that we tend to turn a blind eye to negative things our idols do or ignore things we wouldn’t ignore if they happened to the average person and not an NFL superstar. But do the NFL refs really favor Brady?

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Does Tom Brady get favorable treatment?

The Buccaneers beat the Falcons 21-15 on Sunday, but there has been some controversy surrounding that victory, with suspicion that Brady gets some rather kind decisions from the referees. Calls that help his numbers and team’s success rates.

During last year’s Wild Card Weekend, something similar happened when a questionable call was made against the Eagles for roughing the passer. Speaking to Jim Gray, Brady responded to the accusation that he is protected more than other quarterbacks.

“I always hear that to different degrees about getting penalties, and so forth, roughing the passers.

“I don’t remember the last time I got a roughing the passer. I don’t feel like I get them as much as people might think that I get them.”

Posting the clip to social media, Brady also cried out for help to his followers, asking specifically for ProFootballFocus to back him up with the stats… although only if they back up his point.

Fans were quick to reply to him, with most sharing the comparison numbers that do indeed suggest he is not getting special treatment. That said, statistics in isolation can be dangerous, and only by assessing each individual case can we determine whether or not they were valid calls.

Well, it happened again today during the Buccaneers vs Falcons game. The game was 21-15 in the Bucs’ favor and they let the clock run out after a flag was thrown against Falcons defensive lineman Grady Jarrett. It was a third down and Brady was sacked for a loss of 10 yards with just under three minutes left in the game. The roughing the passer call on Jarrett kept the Bucs on the field and sealed the win.

“I don’t throw flags,” Brady said.

“From my vantage point it looked like it was a bad call, but that’s why you put the refs out there to make these calls. They pay these guys to make those calls,” Falcons cornerback Casey Hayward Jr. said.

Buccaneers head coach Todd Bowles was asked if he thought quarterbacks of a lesser caliber would have received the same ruling.

“I saw that one being called. I saw it against Tua (Tagovailoa). I saw it in the London game this morning,” Bowles said. “I think they are starting to crack down on some of the things like slinging quarterbacks. Right now, the way they are calling it, I think a lot of people would have gotten that call.”

In other Brady news: did Brady un-retiring cause his divorce?

If you don’t live under a rock and you do pay attention to the NFL, you probably heard that Brady and his wife Gisele Bundchen are getting a divorce. Several news outlets reported that a big cause of the problems in their marriage was Brady’s return to the NFL.


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