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Tom Brady calls out NFL owners, NFLPA on addition of ‘pointless’ 17th regular season game

“Our union hasn’t proven that it’s strong enough to withstand the pressure from NFL owners.” Tom Brady said on his weekly podcast of the push to add a 17th regular season game. (Derick Hingle/AP)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady lamented the NFL’s decision to extend its regular season to 17 games on his weekly podcast, calling the decision “pointless” and describing it as a reflection of owners’ leverage over players.

“I think it’s pointless,” he said of the additional game on the latest episode of “Let’s Go!” “I thought it was a terrible decision. I think 16 is plenty.”

Brady, reflecting on the season at its midway point, described the 17th game as a “challenge” for players, adding, “If you’re going from 16 to 17, I think it’s a significant deal.”

Co-host Jim Gray asked Brady if he foresaw coaches adopting similar load management tactics to those in the NBA, where players are given games off to better navigate the mental and physical challenges of a prolonged season.

“I think there’s definitely a threshold where there’s too much,” Brady said. “A lot of it’s going to be based on your recovery, your ability to get back to where you need to be for the week of practice, because it’s not just the game; it’s the week of practice, too.”

The NFL season stretched from 14 to 16 games in 1978. Owners have sought in recent years to raise that number to 18 with a shortened preseason as a revenue-boosting measure, but their efforts had been thwarted until last year’s labor negotiations with the NFL Players Association, which resulted in the 17-game regular season, an expanded playoff field and other trade-offs.

“If you’re in ownership, the more the better,” Brady said of owners’ motives.

“Our union hasn’t proven that it’s strong enough to withstand the pressure from NFL owners. I would love to see a stronger union so that we can negotiate something that’s more fair, and what’s really right for the owners, for the coaches and the players, because all three groups need different things. If you’re going to ask more, then you better provide more, but that hasn’t been the way the negotiations have gone.”

The Washington Football Team will host Brady and the Buccaneers on Sunday, the teams’ first meeting since Washington’s first-round playoff loss to Tampa Bay in January. During postgame pleasantries that night, Washington defensive end Chase Young asked — and eventually received — Brady’s signed jersey. Brady spoke about Young during Tuesday’s episode, joking that he hopes the gesture buys him some goodwill Sunday.

“Have you ever seen Chase Young out on the field?” he said. “He is a young stud, and he’s been a great player for a year and a half now. So hopefully he’s not in the backfield too much. My big boys up front are pretty prepared, and we got a big challenge.”

Brady was less vocal about Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who recently tested positive for the coronavirus. Rodgers revealed on Friday’s episode of “The Pat McAfee Show” that he is unvaccinated, after having previously calling himself “immunized.” After several days of blowback and his missing the Packers’ game, a loss, Sunday at the Kansas City Chiefs, Rodgers again addressed the situation with McAfee on the Tuesday edition of the former NFL punter’s show.

“I figured out that I’m not commenting on Aaron Rodgers’s personal situation,” Brady said. “Far be it for me to tell anyone what to put in their body. But by the way, Jim, my book, ‘The TB12 Method,’ is available in paperback wherever nutritional books are sold. And I’ll leave it at that.”

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