Remember when college football and the pro game were two different animals?
Tom Brady does.
But the New England Patriots quarterback, now 41, admits that today's NFL is growing more similar to the NCAA product and he thinks the league's recent rule changes in an effort to reduce injuries are a big reason for the resemblance.
"I think now, in some ways, pro football is more glorified college football," Brady said Monday during his weekly interview on WEEI radio. "Maybe the transition is a more similar game than what it used to be when I first started."
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The discussion was raised in advance of New England's anticipated matchup this weekend between Brady, drafted nearly two decades ago in 2000, against the 5-0 Kansas City Chiefs and quarterback phenom Patrick Mahomes, who has been lighting up the league in his first season as a starter.
"I think football now, removing some of the physical elements of the game, it's more of a space game, you see a lot of college plays more in the pro game than what I remember when I started. That's kind of how things have went over the last bunch of years."
Mahomes has averaged over 300 passing yards per game this season with 14 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. A backup to Alex Smith last year as a rookie, Mahomes is one of many young passers enjoying the modern passing game benefitting from the NFL's stricter officiating mandates regarding contact by defensive players.
By contrast, Brady threw 18 touchdown passes against 12 picks in his first season as a starter in 2001 -- his second overall year -- when he started 14 games while taking over from an injured Drew Bledsoe in New England. Brady averaged a mere 189.5 passing yards per game in 2001, the Patriots' first Super Bowl-winning season.
--Field Level Media