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Tom Brady Wants NFL To Change Rules On Hitting Receivers' Knees, In Wake Of Chris Godwin Injury

By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) -- Something Tom Brady has done a lot more in the past year is express his views on the game of football at large. He's been outspoken about what he believes to be some flaws in the sport and the league.

And in the wake of Chris Godwin suffering a season-ending ACL tear on Sunday night, Brady is once again voicing his opinion on the lack of protection for the knees of pass catchers.

"Chris got hit in the knees [Sunday], which is a play that I think they oughtta take out of the game of football, from a receiver standpoint," Brady said on his "Let's Go!" podcast. "I kind of talked to the [NFL Players' Association] for a while about it, and I'd like to speak to the rules competition committee at some point this offseason. I've seen that hit too many times, where a defenseless pass catcher is in the process of catching the ball, and he's hit by the defender. And a lot of the defenders will say, 'Well, we can't hit him in the head anymore.' Well, the point is you can't hit anyone in the head anymore, and you can't hit anyone in the knees anymore -- except for receivers. Because you can still hit them in the knees. Which doesn't make any sense to me."

Brady has voiced this opinion before, as he's noted that every other player is protected at the knees.

"You can't hit a defensive lineman in the knees, you can't hit a punter in the knees, you can't hit a quarterback in the knees, you can't hit a DB in the knees, except we're somehow allowing hit on defenseless receivers in the knees," Brady said. "So it needs to be addressed, and it needs to be really thought out."

Brady spoke of the emotional toll of seeing Godwin suffer this injury, as Godwin is known by all of his teammates as one of the most dedicated and hard-working players on the team. And with Godwin set to be a free agent in the coming offseason, an injury like this one is doubly devastating.

"It really impacts guys' careers," Brady said. "Chris, I know he'll overcome it. It's a tough rehab. You tear your ACL, that's a lifelong injury. I'm sure almost every pass catcher in the NFL would prefer a hit to the head over a hit to the knees. I certainly would. I'd take that a million out of a million."

Co-host Jim Gray paraphrased a comment from future Hall of Fame receiver Larry Fitzgerald, who said that he was willing to pay defensive players' fines if they hit him up high, so long as they didn't go at his knees.

"That's pretty much how it feels," Brady agreed. "And I've seen this hit a lot of times. It's not a cheap hit, because they're allowed to do it. I think there needs to be a rule that forbids it, and therefore people understand the vulnerability of a pass catcher in the act of receiving the ball and being hit in a vulnerable position and having his entire career compromised. Because that should not be allowed in the NFL. That should not be allowed in the NFL. Everybody else in the entire league is protected except receivers catching the ball. So that makes zero sense to me and hopefully when they make the change, we can go back to a much cleaner style of football, where if you're running with the ball, no problem -- tackle me wherever you want to tackle me. If you've got the ball and you're holding the ball, that's just the way it is. But if you're in the act of receiving the pass, I think that rule needs to be -- that particular rule needs to be changed."

For those who may be thinking Brady's timing is convenient because he lost his top target, he's actually been a proponent of a number of rule changes over the past year or so -- including rules that benefit him and the offense. Considering he has more than 20 years of experience playing the game, and he's experienced just about everything there is to experience on a football field, his opinion certainly carries a lot of weight.

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