It was 10 years ago today, Jan. 19, 2002. A day that in many ways altered NFL history. In a Foxborough, Mass. snowstorm, Tom Brady and the New England Patriots defeated the Oakland Raiders in overtime of a divisional round playoff game. The game featured a crucial ruling by referee Walt Coleman. The ruling, now known as the “Tuck Rule,” enabled the Patriots to keep possession after an apparent fumble was ruled an incomplete pass. With that controversial victory, Brady and the Pats went on to win the first of their three Super Bowl titles. It was Brady’s first career playoff game. A star was born, a dynasty was launched and a reputation was set into motion that suggests Brady was/is too good to be true.
By many estimations, Brady is equal parts winner and whiner. There’s no disputing the winning part. Brady has quarterbacked 16 victorious playoff games (only Joe Montana has more with 18) and Brady’s success includes three Super Bowl championships, twice he was named the game MVP.
But with the winning has come some whining. With his elite status, Brady is believed to be specifically protected from football violence and officials are judged to be more prone to throw flags at defenders who touch Brady — as opposed to any other quarterback. When current Raven Bernard Pollard (then with Kansas City) hit Brady below the knee on the first game of the 2008 season, the resulting injury knocked the Patriots QB out for the season and the so-called “Brady Rule” was instituted by the league.
The “Brady Rule” makes defensive players burn with anger. The “Tuck Rule” annoys everyone. Tom Brady is involved in the genesis of both. And it all started on this date 10 years ago. I know because I was there — reporting for CNN-Sports Illustrated. Check out the archive video. Five months after this memorable assignment I was back in Baltimore working for WJZ-TV. And this weekend, I’ll be returning to Foxboro to report on the Ravens’ attempt to knock out Tom Brady and the Patriots in the AFC title game.
Posted by Mark Viviano