Monday's NFL: Tom Brady denies he’s risking reputation for new receiver Antonio Brown

Joey Knight
Tampa Bay Times

Among the prevalent questions surrounding Tom Brady’s signing with the Bucs in March was how a franchise switch at the twilight of his career would affect his legacy.

Now, he’s being asked how it might affect his reputation.

Such was the question posed Monday night by Westwood One radio host Jim Gray to Brady (Michigan), believed to be instrumental in the Bucs bringing aboard controversial Pro Bowl receiver Antonio Brown (Central Michigan).

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady

Speaking on his regular Monday Night Football pregame segment on Westwood One radio, Brady indicated he doesn’t feel he has put his reputation on the line for Brown, or that the 32-year-old veteran will try to fit in better based on how much Brady has gone to bat for him.

“No, he’s his own individual,” Brady said.

“Everybody has the opportunity in life, and again, I’m just happy that he’s got another opportunity to play in the NFL. … I love playing football, I know he does too. He’s joining a group of (receivers) who are extremely hard-working, extremely selfless.”

Though Bucs coach Bruce Arians has insisted Brady had nothing to do with the acquisition of Brown, it’s widely believed Brady has been trying to coax the Bucs into signing him for months. The two played one game together in New England (hooking up four times for 56 yards and a touchdown) last September before Brown was released following sexual-assault allegations.

When asked how much influence he has with the Bucs staff and front office, Brady was mildly evasive.

“I’m the quarterback of the team, and that’s my role and responsibility,” he told Gray.

“I’m trying to do that the best way I possibly can. I do appreciate the relationship I have with BA (Arians) and (general manager) Jason Licht. I think they know me, they know what my style is. I have a tremendous amount of trust in them, and they’re putting the team first.”

Once his eight-game suspension ends next week, Brown joins arguably the deepest receiver room in the NFL. While none of Brady’s targets has even 30 receptions, four – Mike Evans, Scotty Miller, Chris Godwin and Rob Gronkowski – have at least 20. Additionally, Brady’s 18 touchdown passes rank second in the league.

“Certainly I’m happy for Antonio to get an opportunity to resume his career,” Brady said. “He’s put a lot of time and energy into working on a lot of things in his life, and I know he’s excited to play football. Everyone’s going to earn a role on our team, and I know that’s his mindset, too.

“I think the receiver position is really a position of strength on our offense, and how Antonio fits into that is going to be up to him and the role that he can create for himself.”

Beckham done for season

Odell Beckham Jr. was in a much better place emotionally and physically. This was going to be the season he changed minds.

He was determined to make 2020 — and its many obstacles — a special year, re-establish himself as one of the NFL’s best players and lead the Browns back to the playoffs, along with best friend and teammate Jarvis Landry.

Beckham won’t get the chance.

The star receiver’s second season with Cleveland ended after an MRI confirmed he suffered a torn left knee ligament in the opening minutes of Sunday’s 37-34 win over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Beckham’s injury is a devastating personal blow and a potentially major setback to the Browns, who are off to their best start since 1994 and eyeing their first postseason appearance in 18 years.

They’ll have to get there without Beckham.

“Obviously, it’s a big loss,” coach Kevin Stefanski said. “He’s a huge part of what we do, so now we just have to huddle up and find some different ways and find some different people and put them in that role. … I’m sick for Odell.”

Beckham, a three-time Pro Bowler, got hurt when his left leg buckled while trying to make a tackle after Baker Mayfield’s first pass was intercepted by Bengals cornerback Darius Phillips (Western Michigan).

Falcons coach takes heat

Interim Falcons coach Raheem Morris tried to take the burden off Todd Gurley for the running back’s ill-timed touchdown Sunday against the Lions. Morris accepted blame for the play call, saying he should have had quarterback Matt Ryan kneel down.

By kneeling with Detroit leading 16-14, the Falcons (1-6) could have worked down the clock and set up a potential winning field goal. Gurley’s first-down run through an accommodating Detroit defense left the Lions time to drive downfield for their last-second touchdown in the 23-22 win.

Morris was aware Lions defenders would try to strip the ball to force a fumble. He said he wanted the ball in a “sure running back’s hands.”

Cowboys question spirit

Dallas receiver Amari Cooper had no answer for why the Cowboys didn’t respond when Andy Dalton was hit while sliding on a play that led to the ejection of Washington’s Jon Bostic. Dalton suffered a concussion.

Coach Mike McCarthy didn’t hide his disappointment in the rest of the players on offense. Defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence fit the theme perfectly when answering an unrelated question about whether Dallas (2-5) could turn its season around after a demoralizing 25-3 loss.

“We need more belief and more high spirits around this team, and really more fight,” Lawrence said. “That’s really, I feel like, one of our weaknesses. We need to build a stronger backbone, fight and also make sure that we brought everything possible to come out with a victory.”

Jaguars stay course

Jaguars coach Doug Marrone’s job is safe for now. Owner Shad Khan spared Marrone following the team’s sixth consecutive loss, a 39-29 setback at the Los Angeles Chargers, in which the Jaguars tied an NFL record by allowing at least 30 points in six straight games.

The Jaguars (1-6) showed enough fight against the Chargers — they led 29-22 late in the third quarter — for Khan to stick with Marrone.