Denver Broncos defensive lineman Antonio Smith had some choice words for New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady ahead of Sunday's AFC Championship Game.
When Smith was asked if Brady was a "crybaby" on Monday, he replied, per the Gazette's Paul Klee:
That would be an accurate statement. I've never seen any quarterback look to the referee right after he gets sacked more than Brady. Every time he gets sacked he looks at the ref like, "You see him sack me? Was that supposed to happen? He did it a little hard. Please throw a 15-yard penalty on him. Get him fined."
... With Brady, he's a great competitor. You know it's coming. He's going to cry about getting hit, but he's going to take the hit and keep going.
The New York Daily News had fun with the comments, which NBCSN shared:
Good morning, @NYDailyNews https://t.co/L39mdLxhsr2016-1-20 13:30:09
OK, then. That's a somewhat backhanded compliment to finish off those "crybaby" remarks, but nevertheless, Smith is implying Brady tries to bend the rules by appealing to the officials when defenders drill him.
Brady is intense on the gridiron and happens to be one of the best quarterbacks to ever play the game—perhaps the best ever. It's understandable opponents could be frustrated by Tom Terrific and his whole routine on and off the field, but it's seldom wise to publicly attack the Pats.
Although the Broncos boast a great team to back up Smith's big talk, Brady is the type of player who will do everything in his power to eviscerate Denver's vaunted defense without ever admitting Smith's words were bulletin-board material.
Yet teammate Malik Jackson reiterated Smith's comments later on Tuesday in an interview on PFT Live, per Mike Florio of ProFootballTalk:
I mean when we played him he definitely threw some temper tantrums. It’s one of those things that you know. He definitely [says], "What’s going on? Why?" Definitely one of those whiners that whines but it’s a competitive game. I know I wouldn’t be whining like that, but some people do. So he’s definitely a whiner but he’s actually a big time player, competitor, too.
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This is New England's fifth straight trip to the AFC title game, where it lost to the Broncos, 26-16, following the 2013 campaign. Vengeance is already at play for Brady and coach Bill Belichick as they gear up to face an elite Denver secondary and a legend under center in Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.
Smith is 34 and near the end of his career. He didn't start once in the regular season and just threw kerosene on the inferno that is Brady's competitive fire.
It may have been a mistake on Smith's part to be as candid as he was. Ask the Patriots, though, and they'll likely say talk is cheap compared to the stakes at play in Sunday's clash at Sports Authority Field at Mile High, where a Super Bowl 50 berth will be on the line.