Ray Lewis believes the tuck rule is the only reason any of us knows who Tom Brady is.
Lewis told Stephen A. Smith on ESPN Radio that the Patriots getting the benefit of the infamous rule when Brady appeared to fumble in his first playoff start against the Raiders in January of 2002 is the reason he has a career today.
“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, via CBS Boston. “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! But guess what we created? We created a freaking tuck rule!”
Lewis noted that if the Patriots had lost that game to the Raiders, they wouldn’t have made it to the AFC Championship Game that year.
“They don’t go to that championship game — they don’t go to that championship game if that tuck rule, if that ball is not called a tuck! That’s a fumble!” Lewis said. “Charles Woodson made that man clearly fumble the ball and they named it the tuck rule, something that we’ve never heard in today’s game. So now you’ve got to ask yourself: When did the legacy really start?”
Well, yes, you could argue that Brady’s legacy really started with that tuck rule game. But even if you think that should have been a fumble, and that the Patriots should have been eliminated before Brady’s first Super Bowl, is that really the only reason we’ve heard of Tom Brady?
The tuck rule didn’t help the Patriots win the other two Super Bowls of Brady’s tenure as their starting quarterback. The tuck rule didn’t win Brady two regular-season MVP awards. The tuck rule didn’t make Brady lead the league in passing touchdowns three times or lead the league in passer rating and passing yards two other times. The tuck rule didn’t get Brady to nine Pro Bowls. Wouldn’t we have heard of Brady because of all those achievements, even if he hadn’t benefited from the tuck rule?
So it’s true that Brady’s reputation was built early in his career largely on the two postseason games the Patriots won after they beat the Raiders thanks to the tuck rule. But it’s ridiculous to suggest that the tuck rule is the only (or even the main) reason we know who Brady is. The tuck rule was 13 years ago. Brady has done pretty well for himself since then.