Rob Ninkovich: Tom Brady playing through torn MCL 'isn't crazy'

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Ex-Patriot downplays Brady playing through torn MCL originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Tom Brady didn't just win his seventh Super Bowl title in his first season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he did it on one leg.

Well, sort of.

On Thursday, it was revealed Brady's left knee injury that required surgery in February was a torn MCL. The 43-year-old quarterback suffered the injury during his 2019 season with the New England Patriots and played through it in 2020 with the Bucs.

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It sounds like another one of Brady's incredible feats, but one of his former Patriots teammates isn't totally buying the hype.

Ex-Pats linebacker Rob Ninkovich says that while Brady's toughness is undeniable, playing through a torn MCL or a similar injury isn't exactly uncommon.

“Yeah I mean look, he's tapped. He is, No. 1, very tough. So don’t question Tom’s toughness, he's a very tough guy," Ninkovich said on ESPN's "Get Up!". "Sometimes you can hit Tom, sometimes you can get on top of Tom and drop weight on Tom and he almost enjoys it. It’s super weird. It doesn’t surprise me that he would fight through injury through the whole season.

“But on the flip side of that, I am just going to say this: ... guys are playing with [injuries]. An MCL — to play through an MCL injury — isn’t crazy. I think every single football player has played through some type of injury, especially an MCL, which is probably the least most important part (of the knee) if it's not like a Grade 3 tear. Grade 1, Grade 2, you put a tape job on it, you put your DonJoy brace on, and you go play football. That's what everybody does. So Tom playing through injury, yes, very tough. But a lot of people play through injuries.”

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Ninkovich certainly isn't wrong in pointing out that NFL players constantly are persisting through injuries. You'd be hard-pressed to find a player who isn't dealing with some kind of ailment over the course of a season.

That said, it doesn't make Brady's accomplishment any less impressive. He started under center in all 16 regular-season games despite the injury, leading his new team to an 11-5 record before cruising through the playoffs on the road.

Sorry, Ninkovich, but we respectfully disagree. That's pretty "crazy."