Michael Jordan might have gotten all the calls, but you never saw an official trying to block off Joe Dumars from defending him.
Brady threw a long interception and Philadelphia Eagles defensive lineman Derek Barnett started blocking Brady. It wasn’t all that physical. Brady turned to the official to complain — in the NFL rulebook, the quarterback is deemed to be in a defenseless position “until he assumes a distinctly defensive position,” and Brady wasn’t — and the official stepped in to break up Barnett and Brady.
The problem? The play was still going on.
Tom Brady and Derek Barnett with a little exchange after the previous Bucs play on offense. pic.twitter.com/Z00CwgGG0e— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) October 15, 2021
What about the ref intervening here during an interception return. This is an active play. Brady is fair game. You guys are ridiculous. pic.twitter.com/TScXgMpqfi— Believe (@FaxelLofey) October 15, 2021
While what Barnett was theoretically illegal, since Brady wasn’t chasing the play at the moment Barnett started blocking him, it’s hard to come up with another instance of an official breaking anything up during a play.
The NFL wants to protect quarterbacks from injury, and for good reason. This probably isn’t what the league meant.