The New England Patriots had a grand old time celebrating Tom Brady’s 40th birthday Thursday. But Brandon Marshall won’t be sending him any Hallmark cards.
The Denver Broncos linebacker, like many of his teammates, doesn’t particularly care for the Patriots quarterback, which makes sense — New England and Denver have been pretty fierce rivals over the years. But Marshall apparently can’t get over an incident involving Brady from two full seasons ago.
It came during the 2015 AFC Championship Game in Denver, when Brady broke the huddle on second down and singled out the Broncos ‘backer.
“He looked at (running back) James White and said: ‘You’ve got 54. Get open,’ ” Marshall told the Denver Post’s Mark Kiszla.
Marshall, of course, is No. 54. In his mind, Brady barked the order especially loud so Marshall could hear him, showing blatant disrespect for the linebacker’s pass-coverage ability.
“Before the play,” Marshall said. “He didn’t read the defense. He just said: ‘You’ve got 54. Get open.’ … I took it as a challenge. I was offended, at first.”
Brady indeed targeted White on an option route, but Marshall proved up to the task, knocking the pass incomplete. Apparently this seemingly harmless play — in which Marshall came out on top — still irks the Broncos veteran to this day, though.
“I looked at Brady and I looked at James White, like, ‘All right. That’s how you feel about me?’ ” Marshall said. “… I’ll never forget that. I’m going to say something to Brady at some point.”
Kiszla describes the incident as the time Brady “arrogantly and openly dissed” Marshall, which, let’s be honest, is a stretch. Brady simply was going through his pre-snap reads, as every quarterback does, and identified a mismatch: The speedy, 195-pound James White against a 250-pound linebacker in Marshall. Even if Marshall is above-average in coverage (he is), a pass-catching running back almost always will be identified a mismatch against a linebacker. We doubt Brady was going out of his way to insult Marshall’s character as much as he was trying to complete a pass in an important playoff game.
But we digress. Marshall’s Broncos also got the last laugh in that game, winning 20-18, so anyone has an ax to grind, it’s Brady.
Thumbnail photo via Ron Chenoy/USA TODAY Sports Images