By Matthew Geagan, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — As much of the world heaps birthday wishes onto Tom Brady on his 40th birthday, one of his opponents is still miffed over something the quarterback said on the field nearly two years ago.
Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall has a bone to pick with Brady over the quarterback pointing out an on-field mismatch in the 2016 AFC Championship game in Denver. Or as The Denver Post‘s Mark Kiszla called in his headline, an “arrogant diss.”
What exactly did Brady say that has Marshall so upset? He told his running back to get open.
“Tom Brady …” Marshall recalled. “He looked at (running back) James White and said: ‘You’ve got 54. Get open.’”
Marshall didn’t need to check his jersey. He’s No. 54. Brady shouted the Patriots were coming after him.
“Before the play,” said Marshall, still mystified how Brady could have such open contempt of his pass-coverage skills. “He didn’t read the defense. He just said: ‘You’ve got 54. Get open.’”
Tom Brady, king of trash talk on the Patriots, singling out a mismatch and telling his running back to get open is insulting? Is this The Onion?
It’s not. But Marshall’s beef gets better.
“I took it as a challenge. I was offended, at first. … He said it so loud, like he wanted me to hear,” Marshall said.
From the shotgun, Brady took the snap and immediately looked for White on an option route. He threw. Marshall refused to be beaten. The pass fell incomplete.
Before leaving the field, however, Marshall recalled, “I looked at Brady and I looked at James White, like ‘All right. That’s how you feel about me?’”
There was no harm to the Broncos on the play. But it left a permanent scar on Marshall’s pride.
“I’ll never forget that,” Marshall said. “I’m going to say something to Brady at some point.”
So what exactly happened? Football. A quarterback saw his fast and shifty running back would be covered by a linebacker, which 10 times out of 10 is a matchup in favor of the running back. He pointed it out. He did it loud enough so the linebacker heard it, another one of Brady’s mind games that he plays with opposing defenses pretty much every Sunday.
Marshall can use whatever he wants as motivation. The Patriots are kings of taking the littlest of statements and using them as a mile of bulletin board material. But to call the quarterback singling out a mismatch on the field an “arrogant diss” is pretty silly. Brady has said plenty of worse things on the field. Those simple words to White, in earshot of Marshall, are anything but an “arrogant diss.”
If you’re wondering why Marshall didn’t bring this up last season, it’s because he was injured when the Broncos played the Patriots at Gillette Stadium. So whatever he wanted to say to No. 12 has been festering for 18 long months. He’ll finally get his chance to say something on November 12 when the Patriots head to Denver.
But when the defending champs head to the Mile-High City, Marshall should probably worry more about letting his play do the talking.