Was Tom Brady's 'Slide/Kick' of Ed Reed Illegal?

Erik FrenzSenior Writer IJanuary 22, 2013

Tom Brady could be fined for this play, which is under league review.
Tom Brady could be fined for this play, which is under league review.

The hits keep coming for quarterback Tom Brady, even days after the New England Patriots lost the AFC Championship Game to the Baltimore Ravens.

On Sunday, his problems were football related. Now, they may be finance related, and he may have to answer for his actions in the course of that game.

On a dubious play late in the second quarter, Brady tucked the ball and ran with it when he couldn't find an open receiver. It was the usual graceless stride we've come to expect (and mock) from Brady, but what we didn't expect was the aftermath, with Brady lifting his leg into that of Ravens safety Ed Reed.

Now, the league will review the play.

JUST IN - Tom Brady is being reviewed by league officials for his slide/kick in AFC Championship (via @edwerderespn)

— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) January 22, 2013

Call it what you want to call it: Slide, kick, regardless, it was not a good look for Brady.

But was it illegal?

I asked Ben Austro of FootballZebras.com, who pointed me to the NFL's official rulebook. Rule 12, Section 2, Article 6 covers unnecessary roughness penalties. Article 6(a) reads, "Using the foot or any part of the leg to strike an opponent with a whipping motion."

The "whipping motion" part seems to work in Brady's favor; he's not exactly Pèlè here, but he's not in a position to whip his leg. This play needs to be looked at in context.

As Austro pointed out to me, there's a note at the end of that Article in the rulebook which gives broad discretion to "potentially dangerous tactics" which should draw a personal foul penalty.

From the video above and the .gif of the play (courtesy BostInno.com), it certainly appears to go beyond a "potentially dangerous tactic." Brady's initial contact with Reed wasn't that bad, but there's an obvious second extension of Brady's leg mid-slide, after Reed has already begun to somersault over him.

In his live blog of the game, Austro said the following of the play in question:

[The contact] was incidental enough, however, if there had been more contact with the foot, it would have certainly been a penalty. Oddly, it might have worked in the Patriots favor, as they were confused as to which play to call, and a timeout was taken with 4 seconds remaining in the half. If the penalty was called, yes, they would have lost the 15 yards, but they would have had 18 seconds on the clock. It was a poor slide by Brady, much like what the ball-throwing dad in the VW commercials might demonstrate to his kid.

John Harbaugh clearly thought it was a penalty; he reacted immediately on the sidelines. I couldn't catch all the words, but my masterful lipreading skills got me as far as "personal foul" and "he kicked him."

Michael Hurley of CBS Boston, however, shares a valid point:

@erikfrenz I truthfully don't think he's coordinated enough to pull that off. Same guy who couldn't avoid a fat umpire running away from him

— Michael Hurley (@michaelFhurley) January 22, 2013

It's up to the league office whether they see it the same way or not.

At the very least, it appears he is aiming his foot into Reed's leg. From there, the outward extension of his leg, well after he has begun his initial slide, could be the smoking gun for the league office.

What do you think? Was it a dirty play by Brady?

Vote in the poll and leave your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE [5:51pm ET, Tuesday]:

Reed told WJZ-FM in Baltimore (via ESPN) that Brady apologized to him for the slide/kick after the game.


Erik Frenz is the AFC East lead blogger for Bleacher Report. Be sure to follow Erik on Twitter and "like" the AFC East blog on Facebook to keep up with all the updates. Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are obtained firsthand or via team press releases.