Don't even think about hitting the legend that is Tom Brady. Not even with a legal hit.
According to Miami Dolphins linebacker Raekwon McMillan, that is essentially what a referee told him during Sunday's 43-0 loss to the New England Patriots. McMillan told Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald an official said to "stay off Tom" following a legal hit.
Andrew Joseph of USA Today's For The Win noted it was Bill Vinovich's officiating crew that worked the game.
While that surely doesn't sound fair to a linebacker who is trying to help his team win, there are a couple of factors that could have been in play. For one, the Patriots steamrolled the Dolphins in a noncompetitive game, and the official may have been looking to avoid injuries from unnecessary hits in a blowout.
What's more, there have already been a number of quarterback injuries this year.
Nick Foles, Ben Roethlisberger, Drew Brees, Trevor Siemian and Cam Newton are among the numerous signal-callers to suffer injuries in the early portion of the season. Protecting the league's marquee star in a game that was so one-sided is in the NFL's best interest, although defensive players like McMillan won't want to hear that.
Ultimately, the new reality of the current league is quarterbacks are going to get the benefit of the doubt. Just ask New York Jets safety Jamal Adams, who tweeted "This league is a damn joke" after he was fined $21,000 for a hit on Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The referee may have been helping McMillan avoid a penalty or fine by encouraging caution around Brady, but it is still a head-turning comment. Especially after a legal hit.