Michael Irvin can’t reveal what Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady did say to Chiefs safety Tyrann Mathieu, but he was able to share what Brady definitely didn’t say.
In an interview on Tuesday’s edition of “The Rich Eisen Show,” the Hall of Fame wide receiver and NFL Network analyst discussed the heated Super Bowl 55 interaction between Brady and Mathieu. After a Brady touchdown pass with just six seconds left in the second quarter, Mathieu ran over to Brady and put a finger directly in his face. Brady then felt the need to extend the conversation, chasing down Mathieu before teammates separated the two.
In a since-deleted tweet that was posted Sunday night after Tampa Bay’s victory, Mathieu claimed that Brady may have crossed the line with his word choice.
“He called me something I won’t repeat but yeah I’ll let all the media throw me under [the] bus as if I did something or said something to him,” Mathieu tweeted. “Go back to my previous games against [Brady]. I showed him nothing but respect. Look at my interviews about him. I show grace.”
Mathieu’s cryptic post led to speculation that Brady hurled a racial slur in Mathieu’s direction. Irvin, who has access to on-field audio because he works on Showtime’s “Inside The NFL” but is prohibited from divulging specifics, claims Brady didn’t utter anything that would be considered racially insensitive.
“I didn’t like that Tyrann Mathieu put that out like that, the way he put it out, honestly,” Irvin told Eisen. “Because, I go, ‘Come on now.’ It makes it sound as if — it makes people want to know, ‘What’d he say? We’re curious.’ As if he said the N-word, and he did not. Tom did not. So, you know, I didn’t even like that even looming over this situation. So that’s why I think we should clean that up somewhere, somehow. That’s what I’m saying. He didn’t say that.”
“I don’t think that’s fair and just for Tom, and when we leave it lingering like that, some people think or may say or have thoughts — and it wasn’t that,” Irvin said. “But also on our side, as an African American side, because I don’t want people to think, ‘OK, they’re just saying it again or implying it again.’ So it’s like it’s crying wolf, and then when it really happens, nobody listens. You see what I’m saying? So I want to squash all of that. This was just two guys competing. That’s what that is. It’s just two guys competing.”
During his postgame media availability, Mathieu declined to offer details about the trash-talking incident but told reporters he didn’t believe it impacted how he performed.
“I thought I played as hard as I can today,” Mathieu said (via ProFootballTalk). “Listen, Tom Brady’s a great quarterback. I never really saw that side of Tom Brady, to be honest. But whatever. No comment. It’s over with. I’m done with it.”
Brady has not publicly addressed the quarrel, but he did text an apology to Mathieu after the game, according to ESPN’s Jenna Laine. Brady reportedly told Mathieu he considers him a “class act” and “great leader.”