Tom Brady officially ascended to fully retired status last week when he went viral for complaining that the NFL of today is a lot worse than the NFL of his day. Which was a weird thing to say for a guy who won a Super Bowl three seasons ago and hung up his cleats earlier this calendar year. Regardless, when a person of Brady's standing in the football world says something like that it's going to be a topic of conversation for quite a while.
It came up during today's filming of NFL Live on ESPN and Alex Smith planted his flag opposite the all-time great quarterback. He argued that the league is in better shape than it ever has been before going after Brady personally, saying it doesn't line up that he would say such a thing when he played in "the most uncompetitive division of all time" for most of his career.
Smith is, of course, referring to the AFC East. The division in which three of his coworkers (Randy Moss, Tedy Bruschi, and Rex Ryan) spent some or all of their careers. Bruschi took the shot well. Moss gave Smith a strong glare. Ryan, though, acted all offended.
The whole AFC East cakewalk thing is a more nuanced discussion than what Smith said above because most people will point to the record of the New York Jets, Miami Dolphins, and Buffalo Bills during the Brady era as proof that the division was terrible. But how much of that is the result of playing the greatest quarterback of all time at least twice a year? Plus, while the Patriots were absolutely dominant for the better part of 20 years, they only swept the division twice over those decades. I am of the opinion that the ineptitude of the division as a whole is a bit overstated because all anybody remembers is that the Pats kicked ass over the course of multiple generations.
That doesn't mean those teams were good, but Ryan shouldn't even be that offended. His Jets teams gave the Brady Patriots the best fight out of anybody. The division may have been uncompetitive but the Rex Ryan defenses certainly were not.
Anyway, Smith better be careful next time he dips his toe into these waters because he is literally surrounded by people who will catch strays if he insults the AFC East. Even if the most they'll do is make a pouty face like Ryan.