During the 2001 season, while playing in Buffalo, Brady was rocked by a hard shot to his head. In that game, 18 years ago, Brady scrambled and failed to protect himself when an opposing player came in for a hit.
The result was Bills cornerback Nate Clements hitting Brady’s head so hard that his helmet flew off. He learned a valuable lesson that day, thanks to his coach, Bill Belichick. He was reminded of the devastating hit this weekend when he saw Allen get knocked out of Sunday’s game — a 16-10 Patriots win — following a hit by Pats cornerback Jonathan Jones.
“I saw the play happen. You never like to see anyone get hurt out there. Football is a contact sport. It’s part of football,” Brady said during his Monday morning appearance on WEEI. “The reality is my career started when Drew (Bledsoe) got hit on the sideline. Drew was running for a first down and the defensive players, they are very fast and physical. Actually, I had a play like that up in Buffalo early on in my career. I was scrambling up the right side and tried to hold onto the ball and I tried to slide late. A guy hit me and my helmet flew off about 10 yards away. It kind of riled up their whole sideline.
“I remember the next day, Coach Belichick said to me, and I will never forget this, he said, ‘Hey Brady, if you want to have a career in this league, when you’re running like that you either throw the ball away or slide.’ I will never forget Coach Belichick telling me that.”
Jones’ hit on Allen has drawn the ire of Bills head coach Sean McDermott, Bills players and their fan base. However, there’s a lesson to be learned for this young quarterback. On the play, Allen didn’t slide when Patriots defensive players were closed in. Instead, he lowered his head, which is why his helmet collided with Jones’ helmet.
It was reported on Monday that Jones won’t be suspended by NFL for the hit. Belichick said, on his conference call, that there was nothing else the cornerback could’ve done.
“When there really isn’t anything you can tell him to do differently, then I think you don’t tell him anything,” Belichick. “I mean, Allen’s a big runner. He’s a strong guy. He’s hard to tackle. He certainly broke several tackles against us. Jon turned when he hit him. He didn’t lead with his head. He didn’t have that posture.”
Allen is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol. The play was another example of why quarterbacks need to protect themselves when leaving the pocket. It’s something Brady learned a long time ago.
“A lot of quarterbacks who do run, you are trying to make yards and it is great, but at the same time you are susceptible to big hits,” Brady said. “Again, whether it is flagged or not, or a penalty, a lot of the rules have changed over the years, but from a quarterback’s standpoint, I feel it is always best to try and be available to the team and take risk-reward and so forth. Again, nobody likes to see anyone get hurt out there. From my own experience, I try and do my best to avoid any big shots like that.”