Tom Brady: Flags should only be thrown when violations are clear, obvious, and prolonged

Los Angeles Rams v Tampa Bay Buccaneers
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The bigger the game, the louder the complaints about bad calls. And there were some loud complaints about bad calls from Sunday’s conference championship games.

“It’s just the way sports are, you know, it’s just another thing for us to get emotional about,” Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady said in the latest episode of his Let’s Go! podcast. “The refs got a tough job. Are they going to get every call right? I mean, is anyone a hundred percent in their job? It’s a hard job to do. They’re making decisions in a millisecond. This is what I believe . . . there were three terms they used . . . it was clear, it was obvious and . . . it was prolonged. At the end of the day that would be my barometer for throwing flags. That would be my barometer for taunting. Was it clear? Was it obvious? And was it prolonged? If it meets those criteria, penalty.”

Another reality for players and coaches is to understand the habits of the officiating crew, along with the way a given game is unfolding. In the postseason, things tend to unfold very differently.

“When you get to the playoffs a lot of times they don’t call it in the playoffs, which I think as players we really actually like that,” Brady said. “We like when they let us play. Now, can that go too far? Absolutely. If you’re thinking about rule changes in refereeing, it’s very difficult because when you slow-mo things down to the millisecond on a TV review, yeah, everyone’s going to be up in arms about everything. But when you’re monitoring those things in real time, they’re happening so quick. So I think clear, obvious, and prolonged is a great way in taunting and holding and DPI, roughing the quarterback. All those things I think would be a better barometer for throwing those flags.”

Brady also realizes that, for every team that suffers a bad call, there’s a team that benefits from a good call.

“When you’re on the wrong side of it, obviously it’s tough to swallow and there’s a lot of reasons to be, you know, angry or emotional,” Brady said. “When you’re on the right side of it you discount it. ‘No, look, we had plenty where it didn’t go our way, either.’ . . . Look, everyone wants the refs to make great calls all the time. Everyone wants me to complete every pass. It’s not the reality.

“There was a time in sports where there wasn’t instant replay all the time. You know, in tennis, there were line judges, they called things out. Sometimes they were in. And John McEnroe would scream at the umpire. That’s what he would do. And now, they have the technology they’ve used and . . . literally, I mean, to the centimeter they can determine whether balls are in or out. So, you know, as we go in sports, yeah, part of it is we can try to eliminate some of those determinations.”

No matter how much technology is used, complaints about calls and outcomes will always be baked into the fan experience.

“As long as there’s wins and losses in sport, there’s gonna be people bitching about wins and losses and who should have won and who should have lost and refs that missed calls and players that screwed up and, you know, again, that’s just part of the entertainment of sports,” Brady said. “That’ll never get old for any of us.”

But here’s what has gotten old — the NFL’s reluctance to spend the money to try to make things better. It will never be perfect, but it can be better. And the league has the resources and the motivation to try to make it better.

40 responses to “Tom Brady: Flags should only be thrown when violations are clear, obvious, and prolonged

  1. He’s not addressing the elephant in the room which is lying to the NFL customer on live air, with the announcers and the token retired ref all being coached to say the same thing.

    The Jamar Chase TD that was called incomplete and lied about on national TV is the most recent example.

    Just on Sunday, the one sided officiating to help KC in the 4th qtr was blatantly obvious and ruined the competitive spirit of the game late in the qtr.

    This has nothing to do with what Brady is talking about and how horrible the producet has become with the officiating at the center stage during these games.

    This never occurred under Rozelle or Tagliabue.

  2. So things happen in a millisecond but infractions should be prolonged to be called? Gotcha

  3. I think the refs do an outstanding job considering the job they are asked to do. The rule book and how they emphasize it changes constantly. The players are moving fast and there is a lot going on. They get it right far more than they don’t. Those who complain probably think they are owed something in life or complain that life isn’t fair. Bad calls will always happen and nothing will ever fix it. It isn’t a conspiracy, just life.

  4. Like Lebron bitching about a no call against Boston the other night…. Cmon guy, what about the thousands of phantom superstar calls you did get? Or the million traveling calls you got away with? Makes me laugh…cry me a river Lebron.

  5. Tripping should be a suspendable offense. Deflating balls too. And video taping the opponent’s practices before super bowls. Tell us more about the rules Tom

  6. Brady should never….EVER…talk about officiating. He has benefitted more from bad calls or non-calls than ANY other player in the history of the game.

  7. Several things could help here. Let’s make officiating a full time job and pay REALLY WELL. Who knows, maybe if we could get some former players officiating or some younger men who are in better shape physically to call a physical game. Let’s make sure they KNOW the rules inside and out and maybe hold seminars with coaches going over controversial and new rules. No more just sending out a simple memo. Stills, video, etc… explaining why the call is what the call is. As others have said, let’s also make EVERYTHING reviewable. You think your player was held, throw a challenge flag, but you are still only getting two of them (or three if you win both). If a team hustles to the line, then it’s your risk whether to throw the flag or not.

  8. Brady sounds like he’s transitioning to broadcasting. He’s the poster child for bad calls.

  9. The sooner we all realize that the refs are in place to facilitate the delivery of an entertainment product, rather than adjudicate a fair sporting event, the less we’ll have reason to complain. Who doesn’t love a close game or a less second victory? It’s their job to “nudge” the outcome to be the most exciting. More money for everyone that way…

  10. He has benefited from flags more than any other player EVER. He is the LAST one who should talk !!

  11. jjackwagon says:
    January 31, 2023 at 11:46 am
    Brady should never….EVER…talk about officiating. He has benefitted more from bad calls or non-calls than ANY other player in the history of the game


    Peyton Manning would like a word with you….

  12. Flags are thrown when on of Roger’s protected teams needs a helping hand when they cannot win otherwise.

  13. Right, like you don’t whine every time your WR doesn’t catch the ball for PI or illegal contact.

  14. “…unless the fouls is against someone who looks at me wrong or gets too close to me or any of my WRs or TEs. Then they should be thrown out of the game, the league and probably imprisoned for life, amirite? C’mon, fellas, not ALL fouls are the same.”

  15. dalewolf68 says:
    January 31, 2023 at 11:32 am

    The Entertainment Of Sports … It quit being a game, long ago.

    It never was a “game” in modern times. The only reason anyone ever cared about watching sports was for their entertainment value. Nothing is produced or created by the play of a game. It only exists to provide amusement and diversion.

  16. newjerichoman says:
    January 31, 2023 at 1:14 pm
    Dee Ford’s offsides shouldn’t have been called then. 🙂


    It was clear and obvious. Offsides is the easiest call ever. Someone lines up offsides and stays there before the ball is snapped and you have to call it. That’s not subjective.

  17. I do not like Tom Brady, but he’s the first person I’ve heard talk sense about this in a long time. It’s ridiculous to expect refs to be perfect and it’s ridiculous to judge calls made in real time by looking at super slow-mo. Make a call and move on. That’s what we did for generations, and everyone was fine with it. He’s right that calls go both ways for every team, but the fans of all 32 teams are certain all calls are slanted against them. It’s human nature. We will never solve for that.

  18. theaints says:
    January 31, 2023 at 1:14 pm
    So when you kicked at Grady Jarrett, right? That was clear and obvious.


    Clear and obvious evidence of what penalty? Attempted tripping? The only penalty that could apply is unsportsmanlike conduct. It’s not against the rules to try and trip someone and miss.

  19. biggs13 says:
    January 31, 2023 at 12:52 pm
    Your career was built on bad calls Tom.


    What calls did he get that were not correct based on the rules?

  20. bullcharger says:
    January 31, 2023 at 1:30 pm
    biggs13 says:
    January 31, 2023 at 12:52 pm
    Your career was built on bad calls Tom.


    What calls did he get that were not correct based on the rules?
    I’m a Patriots fan and I can admit the reversal of Brady’s fumble on the tuck rule play was an awful call.

  21. It makes me wonder if the Tuck Rule never happens, does Brady come into the next year as the starter or does Bledsoe?

  22. Rich Roberts says:
    January 31, 2023 at 2:10 pm
    It makes me wonder if the Tuck Rule never happens, does Brady come into the next year as the starter or does Bledsoe?
    Patriots lose that game then Bledsoe is absolutely the starter going into 2002.

  23. This is rich from Brady who whines after any incompletion, claiming someone did something to him.

  24. I dig his outlook, but it can be shortened to just ‘Was it obvious? Was it prolonged?’

    You don’t need to ask if it is clear because if it is obvious, that means it was clear. A call cant be obvious yet unclear.

  25. Tom, you, of all people ,should just keep your opinions about refs and penalties to yourself. You’ve certainly been “angry and emotional” with them enough times when the calls went against you.

  26. Some defenses commit penalties as part of their strategy to hold down recievers- better to get 5 or ten yards than burned for 25 to 35 yards. Offensive lineman hold routinely- sometimes optically it is helped by the defenders move. refs are doing their best to get it right. better training for the refs, make it a full time job with a review day each week of the calls- grade them and move on.

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