Finally, someone out there has the guts to stand up to Tom Brady. Yes he has six championship rings and is the only player in NFL history to reach 600 career touchdown passes. However, that doesn’t make him infallible. After all, his 2007 New England Patriots did pull a 2015-16 Golden State Warriors and blow a championship after setting a record for regular-season victories. Alex Smith’s NFL career did not have the highs of Brady’s, but he played 16 seasons in the league and his opinions should be heard. Last week on the Stephen A. Smith Show Brady said the NFL product is not as good as when he was a younger player. His biggest gripe was that amount of physicality that has been legislated out of the league. Alex Smith responded to Brady’s hot take on ESPN’s NFL Sunday Countdown. “He hasn’t been retired that long,” Smith said on Sunday. “He was just playing. Like he just won a Super Bowl in the current game. Is he discounting that one? “And then, my biggest complaint with him, and no offense to [Randy Moss, Teddy Bruschi, and Rex Ryan on the set with him] he played in the most uncompetitive division, I think, in NFL history.” Of all people to complain about the rule changes of this millennium, how dare Brady be the player to do so. It comes off as sour grapes and a lack of self-awareness at the same time. What was first changed was an emphasis on contact made by defensive backs after five yards. This was done because during the Patriots’ first two Super Bowl championship seasons, their secondary was mauling pass catchers all the way down the field. They were playing football like it was 1973 instead of 2003. Brady was fortunate to have good health for most of his career but he did miss nearly all of one season — 2008. He suffered a torn ACL when got hit below the knee. Before the NFL was under threat of lawsuit for years of not properly handling head injuries, the first change to quarterback contact was making low hits illegal. Tom, that one is on you and Bernard Pollard. Back to Smith’s comments, mediocrity is a kind way to describe the AFC East from 2003-19. The Buffalo Bills’ first playoff appearance of the 21st century came in 2017, with a 9-7 record. If the Miami Dolphins reach 12 wins this season, it will be the first time since 1990. As much as the New York Jets are teased, they were Brady’s most consistent competition in the AFC East throughout his career. The Jets actually beat him once in a playoff game. They have not made the playoffs since 2010. Piling up wins against a poor division set nearly every one of the Patriots’ season with Brady at quarterback in motion. The NFL would schedule two difficult games for them every year, one against Peyton Manning, and the Patriots would have the same inter-divisional matchups as the rest of the AFC East. Brady is 46 years old. He is very much in the get-off-my-lawn age range. There is no more common critique given of sports by former players than that the game has gotten soft. They go to it more regularly than Brady would go to his checkdown target in 2001. Good on Smith to remind the legend that he was very much the beneficiary of mediocre football throughout his storied career.