Tom Brady didn’t mince words when talking about the state of the modern NFL.

Brady appeared on The Stephen A. Smith Show this week and blasted the league for being “less than what it has been,” decrying the “mediocrity” that he feels exists now that didn’t when he first started playing.

Former Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady looks on before a wild-card game against the Cowboys at Raymond James Stadium.

Nathan Ray Seebeck/USA TODAY Sports

“I think there’s a lot of mediocrity in today’s NFL. I don’t see the excellence I saw in the past,” Brady said. “I think the coaching isn’t as good as it was, I don’t think the development is as good as it was. The rules have allowed a lot of bad habits to get into the actual performance of the game. I just think the product, in my opinion, is less than what it has been.”

Brady’s focus seemed to be on the change in how the game is officiated. While the stated goal of most of those rule changes have been to keep players healthy, Brady believes the changes have limited great defensive players from emerging and have harmed the game overall.

“I look at a lot of players like Ray Lewis and Rodney Harrison and Ronnie Lott… every hit they made would’ve been a penalty,” Brady said. “You hear coaches complaining about their own player being tackled… Why don’t they talk to their player about how to protect themself? We used to work on the fundamentals of those things all the time, now they’re trying to regulated all the time. Offensive players need to protect themselves. It’s not up to a defensive player to protect the offensive player.”

Strong words like this from one of the league’s all-time great players have naturally sparked a lot of conversation. Most people seem to agree with Brady’s take, though some did point out that Brady was protected heavily by referees in his career.