No NFL fan should be surprised that the league wants to keep its star quarterbacks healthy. After all, we’re just a few weeks into the NFL season and multiple starting quarterbacks have already been lost to injury.
The last thing the league would want is for New England Patriots star Tom Brady to join that list.
So, when Miami Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan told The Miami Herald that a member of Bill Vinovich’s officiating crew instructed him to “stay off Tom” after a legal hit, many thought that the officials were going the extra mile just to protect Brady.
And honestly, after seeing video of the apparent hit, it would be difficult to find fault in anything McMillan did on the play.
pic.twitter.com/Gc7AM6mVRv— Viral Sports (@NotScTop10plays) September 19, 2019
McMillan came off the edge to hit Brady just as he threw the ball. And right away, you can see just how mindful he was of the rules to protect the quarterback. McMillan made contact with Brady with his shoulder to Brady’s torso, and he didn’t drive through with the hit. He didn’t fall to the ground with his body weight on Brady. He completely let up.
That was a textbook hit, and the instructions from the ref understandably caught McMillan by surprise.
The linebacker told the Herald: “Tom didn’t say anything but the referee said, ‘Stay off Tom.’ I put my hands up in the air and said ‘I got you.’”
The game’s lopsided score - the Patriots won 43-0 - likely played a part in those directions from the ref, but McMillan certainly didn’t take any cheap shot at Brady.
He was just playing football.