Former Baltimore Ravens middle linebacker Ray Lewis is one of the greatest football players of all-time. Lewis won two Super Bowls in Baltimore, all while earning 13 trips to the Pro Bowl and making the All-Pro team 10 times. When he’s eligible, Lewis will be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.

Yet, on the Stephen A. Smith show of SiriusXM radio, Lewis said one of the more perplexing things in recent memory. Talking about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, Lewis claimed we would not know who Brady is without the infamous Tuck Rule game of Jan. 2002 against the Oakland Raiders.

At that point in history, Brady was a first-year starter who guided the Patriots to an AFC East title. In his first playoff game, Brady appeared to be stripped of the ball on a hit by Raiders defensive back Charles Woodson. The play was ruled a fumble on the field and would have ended the game if it stood, but the decision was ultimately reversed with the determination his arm was going forward. New England went on to win the game, and three of the next four Super Bowls.

Lewis remains of the mindset that Brady would never have become a name without the bit of good fortune he received that snowy evening, per Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk.

“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!”

“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?”

It is hard to argue the Tuck Rule helped launch Brady’s career. However, it is even more asinine to argue the only reason we know Brady’s name is because of one play. Lewis walked back his criticism on Twitter today:

Currently, Brady is in his fourth consecutive AFC Championship game with New England. He has appeared in five Super Bowls and has thrown for 53,528 yards in the regular season, ranking fifth all-time behind Brett Favre, Peyton Manning, Dan Marino and Drew Brees. Brady is also a two-time MVP winner along with a three-time first-team All-Pro and a 10-time Pro Bowler.

About Matt Verderame

Matt Verderame, 26, is a New Yorker who went to school at the frozen tundra of SUNY Oswego. After graduating, Verderame has worked for Gannett and SB Nation among other ventures.

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