Tom Brady Responds to Ray Lewis Slam: He’s a First-Ballot Hall of Famer

Tom Brady Charles Krupa AP
Tom Krupa Associated Press

Ray Lewis claimed “the tuck rule” is “the only reason we know who Tom Brady is” on Monday. Tom Brady refrained from an obvious retort about what made Ray Lewis a household name.

“Everyone has an opinion,” the two-time MVP and three-time Super Bowl-winner said on Thursday. “I think Ray is a great player. He’s a first-ballot Hall of Famer. I was fortunate enough to play against him.”

The Patriots defeated the Oakland Raiders in the 2001 playoffs after referees reversed a called fumble because of the “tuck rule.” The rulebook stated that “any intentional forward movement of his arm starts a forward pass, even if the player loses possession of the ball as he is attempting to tuck it back toward his body.” By pumping before the Charles Woodson strip sack, Brady guaranteed an incomplete-pass call rather than a fumble because of the quirk in the rulebook.

Adam Vinatieri went on to kick a game-tying field goal in the snow and then a game-winning one in overtime. The Patriots subsequently upset the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship Game and then the St. Louis Rams–winning again on a last-second Vinatieri field goal-in the Super Bowl. That underdog team soon became dominant, winning two of the next three Super Bowls.

“They don’t go to that championship game if that ball is not called a tuck,” Lewis said on Sirius XM Radio on Monday. Calling the play a “fumble,” Lewis maintained, “So now you’ve got to ask yourself: When did the legacy really start?”

The Patriots, after beating Lewis’s former team last weekend, take on the Indianapolis Colts in their fourth straight AFC Championship Game appearance on Sunday.