If the play stood, it would have given the 49ers the ball near midfield with a three-point lead and just over three minutes remaining. Their odds of winning plummeted when Brees kept the ball at the 49ers' 30-yard line instead.
"I didn't hit him with my hand or my helmet," Brooks said, via the San Francisco Chronicle. "I basically bear-hugged him. That's just how football is played. I think this s--- is bull----. Football, the way they call stuff these days, it's watered down. It ain't real no more."
It was a borderline hit. It's easy to identify with Brooks' frustration on a game-changing call. At the same time, one can see how a referee would see the hit as a clothesline across the neck in real-time game speed.
For better or worse, officials are going to keep protecting marquee players at football's most important position.
We've seen the Packers struggle to make plays without signal-caller Aaron Rodgers. If calls like this one save us from watching Luke McCown try to move the Saints' offense, we'll have to accept the occasional complaints about a sport gone soft.