Many fans and players were thrilled when the NFL loosened the rules around jersey numbers, allowing, among other things, defensive players to wear single-digit numbers for the first time in decades.
Tom Brady was not thrilled.
Brady spoke out against the rule change at the time it passed, and he offered more expansive thoughts in a recent interview with the Tampa Bay Times, saying that he’s going to be at a disadvantage in Thursday night’s opener because Cowboys safety Donovan Wilson recently switched from No. 37 to No. 6, linebacker Jaylon Smith switched from No. 54 to No. 9 and rookie linebacker Micah Parsons will wear No. 11.
“The number rule is crazy,” Brady said. “Literally, guys changed their numbers today. I’m playing two guys who had different numbers in the preseason. So, yeah you’ve got to watch film and know who you’re studying but so do running backs. They’ve got to know who to block. So does the offensive line. So does the receivers who are adjusting their routes based on blitzes.
“So one guys has got a 6, one guy has 11, one guy has got a 9. And they change every play when you break your routes and get to your spot. It’s going to be a very challenging thing. It’s a good advantage for the defense, which that’s what it is.
“It would be like saying, ‘What if I let the offensive linemen wear 82 and No. 9?’ They wouldn’t know who was eligible. Well that’s not fair. You’ll get your tail kicked. At least identify who the D-line, the linebackers and the safeties are. You’re going to have a lot of matchups where guys are blocking the wrong guys. I don’t know why that should be.”
Brady thinks the NFL would have benefited from talking to veteran quarterbacks before changing the rule.
“I have a lot of perspective things,” Brady said. “You know, like there are certain things that frustrate me and I say, ‘Well, this is something I should speak up about.’ Things as it relates to pro football, the unions. And I’ve been around for 20 years to watch and I say, ‘Is it getting better or worse?’ And when I feel like it’s getting worse, I go, ‘What are we doing? This is not the purpose of the game.’
“But there are people who are making decisions who don’t have the same perspective. Not that mine is always right, but at least I want to feel like my point is heard, too. Because some of it is made just for the sake of making it.”
Unfortunately for Brady, this change has been made, and it won’t be changed back.