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Brady Leaves New England for Tampa Bay
[Posted early Wed. a.m.]
NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship: Only three have scored 40 points in the NCAA title game. Name ‘em. Answer below.
Where We Are
I believe some of us are in total denial regarding the resumption of sports in America, and in much of the world for that point. I understand why Major League Baseball is now talking May, but let’s say, hopefully, that we “bend the curve” on Covid-19 end of April. That doesn’t mean we all start traveling and are allowed to gather in large groups again. It just means we ‘bent the curve.’ There will be a ton of infection still out there. More on the impact for our economy, and the world, in that other column I do this weekend.
At this point we all should be thrilled if we were told baseball would conduct an 80-game schedule beginning July 1. But we really should be thinking college football end of August.
You can tell me the pandemic largely dries up in Asia, let’s say, by May, but if you are still getting a significant number of cases in Europe and North America, it’s not back to normal.
And every expert in the field is already talking about a return of the virus in the fall. Yes, pray for a vaccine.
Barry Svrluga / Washington Post
“Annually, the slowest day on the sports calendar is the Wednesday in July that follows baseball’s All-Star Game. There are no baseball games, no Home Run Derby, no All-Star Game. The British Open typically starts the following day. NFL training camps still haven’t opened. The hockey and basketball playoffs have long since ended, and free agency in those sports is past its frenzy. It’s dead, and that day can feel long.
“Monday is the Wednesday after baseball’s All-Star Game. So is Tuesday. And Wednesday. And every day for the foreseeable future.
“Forget what sports teach us about pushing boundaries and competing fairly, about preparation and elation and heartbreak. All that can be melodramatic. Sometimes we just need them to pass the time.”
The Brooklyn Nets’ Kevin Durant was among four teammates to test positive, as announced Tuesday; one exhibiting symptoms. Durant told The Athletic he was feeling fine.
[Tues. p.m. Frankly, I hate this time of year in the sport because you write something one minute, and it’s old the next, and often wrong. The following was largely written Tuesday morning/early afternoon, before the Brady news….so it is as I wrote it.]
--The focus as free agency and the new league year opens up has been on Tom Brady and his seemingly inevitable announcement that he was leaving the Patriots.
Brady posted on social media: “I don’t know what my football future holds but it is time for me to open a new stage for my life and career.”
One of his posts Tuesday was dedicated to the New England fans.
“You opened your heart to me, and I opened my heart to you,” he wrote. “And Pats Nation will always be a part of me.”
To the Pats’ organization, Brady wrote: “Although my football journey will take place elsewhere, I appreciate everything that we have achieved and am grateful for our incredible TEAM accomplishments….I have been privileged to have had the opportunity to know each and everyone of you, and to have the memories we’ve created together.”
The Chargers and Las Vegas Raiders have been considered top potential destinations, along with Tampa Bay. The Chargers, having parted ways with Philip Rivers earlier in the offseason, have been making various roster moves to create more cap space.
The Titans were thought to be a top contender for Brady’s services, but they agreed to a four-year extension with quarterback Ryan Tannehill last week. The Cowboys, once thought to be interested in signing Brady, put their exclusive franchise tag on Dak Prescott on Monday.
As another sign that Brady could be leaning towards the Chargers, last week he launched a Hollywood production company called 199 Productions – an apparent reference to the number at which he was drafted – with Joe and Anthony Russo, who directed the two most recent Avengers movies.
Meanwhile, New England fans are in a deep state of depression, after Brady and coach Bill Belichick teamed up for six Super Bowl championships. Brady had a 219-64-0 regular-season record, 30-11 in the playoffs, with 74,571 yards and 541 touchdowns, both second all-time.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in January, shortly after the team’s playoff loss, that his hope was for Brady to return to the Pats or retire. One league source said the Patriots did make an offer for Brady for 2020, but that Brady didn’t like it.
“Tommy initiated contact last night and came over. We had a positive, respectful discussion. It’s not the way I want it to end, but I want him to do what is in his best personal interest. After 20 years with us, he has earned that right. I love him like a son,” Kraft told ESPN on Tuesday.
There have been increasing cracks in the relationship between the team and Brady over the last few years. Brady was upset that Kraft didn’t fight harder for him during the Deflategate scandal that resulted in a four-game suspension for Brady in 2016. And he was upset the Pats played hardball with him on his contract the last few years, making him go year-to-year instead of helping him achieve his goal of playing football until he is 45. And the divide deepened in 2017 when Brady’s body guru and business partner, Alex Guerrero, had his special privileges revoked by Belichick.
Brady skipped offseason workouts in 2018 and 2019. In a 2018 self-produced Facebook documentary “Tom vs. Time,” Brady’s wife, Gisele Bundchen, said, “The last two years were very challenging for him in so many ways. He tells me ‘I love it so much and I just want to go to work and feel appreciated and have fun.’” [Ben Volin / Boston Globe]
Brady doesn’t seem to be in a rush to sign with anyone, but the NFL doesn’t seem to be in a rush to sign a guy who will be 43 in August.
As for who the Patriots will replace Brady with, the team is high on second-year player Jarrett Stidham, and they could go for free agent Teddy Bridgewater. There had been reports Bridgewater might sign with Chicago, but he’s asking for $20 million+ per season, which is a problem for New England because they are among the teams with the least cap space.
Belichick is known to be fond of Cincinnati’s Andy Dalton, the Bengals lined up to take LSU quarterback Joe Burrow at No. 1 in the 2020 NFL Draft. If Brady signed with the Vegas Raiders, that would make Derek Carr available.
As for Tampa Bay, they retained their top two pass-rushers – Shaq Barrett and Jason Pierre-Paul – Monday in an attempt to look like a win-now team and are a logical landing spot for free-agent running back Melvin Gordon. But Tampa Bay is not Hollywood or Vegas.
Yup…the above was all written before the news Brady had agreed to a contract with Tampa Bay, the signing official at 4 p.m. ET Wednesday, for at least $30 million per season, i.e., at least two.
I just don’t understand this. He doesn’t need the money. He’s risking his health unnecessarily, and he’s becoming more unlikeable by the minute.
But he’s out of the AFC East…and the AFC altogether! J-E-T-S…Jets Jets Jets!
Meanwhile, Bridgewater is signing with Carolina, three years, $63 million; the Panthers telling Cam Newton to seek a trade.
And Philip Rivers is signing for one year and $25 million to lead the Colts.
--Back to Dak Prescott, the Cowboys have until July 15 to work out a long-term contract. If no deal is reached, Prescott will have the play the 2020 season on the tag, which is expected to be worth between $30 million and $33 million.
In 2019, Prescott threw for a career-high 4,902 yards – the second-best total in the NFL – and 30 touchdown passes. In his first three seasons, he had not thrown for more than 3,885 yards or 23 TDs.
The Cowboys then signed one of Prescott’s main targets, Amari Cooper, to a five-year, $100 million extension, a deal surpassing that given to Saints receiver Michael Thomas’ $96.25 million extension to make him the richest receiver in NFL history. [Atlanta’s Julio Jones has a higher annual salary at $22 million.]
Cooper wanted to stay a Cowboy, as he told a local Dallas radio station. “I think about it almost every day. …Just the aura of being a Dallas Cowboy, you can’t beat it. I want to be a Dallas Cowboy for life.”
--The Arizona Cardinals are deemed big winners already, having landed star receiver DeAndre Hopkins, who is currently signed through the 2022 season. Coupled with Larry Fitzgerald, quarterback Kyler Murray has a new weapon.
Hopkins had 104 receptions last year for 1,165 yards and seven touchdowns, his third 100-reception season. He has five, 1,000-yard seasons, including the last three.
So how did Arizona get him? In a shocking trade, the Texans shipped him for running back David Johnson. Johnson has been a shell of his former self, specifically 2016, when he rushed for 1,239 yards, while catching 80 passes for another 879, with a combined 20 touchdowns. Injuries have held him back. This trade just makes zero sense.
--Miami picked up former Cowboys cornerback Byron Jones, deemed the best in the free agent pool, and Miami rewarded him, five years, $82.5 million, with $57 million in guarantees, thus making him the highest-paid corner in the NFL. The Dolphins also signed former Patriots linebacker Kyle Van Noy on a four-year, $51 million deal. And Miami has three first round picks this year.
--The Browns signed tight end Austin Hooper, a two-time Pro-Bowler with Atlanta, along with right tackle Jack Conklin, who most feel they overpaid for.
--The Bears seem intent on moving on from Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback, reportedly looking to acquire either Andy Dalton or Nick Foles.
--The Colts acquired stud defensive tackle DeForest Buckner from the 49ers for the No. 13 pick in the draft.
--The Giants signed a nice cornerback, James Bradberry, the former Panther.
--And then there was the Stefon Diggs trade. The Vikings traded the exciting, high-maintenance receiver to the Bills for a first-rounder, a fifth-rounder, a sixth-rounder and a fourth-rounder in 2021, the Viking tossing in a seventh-round pick.
So now the Bills have the speedy Diggs (63-1,130-17.9 avg.) to team with Josh Brown, which should have QB Josh Allen salivating.
But hours earlier, the Vikings had given a two-year, $66 million extension to quarterback Kirk Cousins, only to see Diggs respond by tweeting that “it’s time for a new beginning.” Cousins had butted heads with Diggs and fellow wideout Adam Thielen.
Opening Day was pushed back until mid-May at the earliest on Monday after the federal government recommended restricting events of more than 50 people for the next eight weeks. “The clubs remain committed to playing as many games as possible when the season begins,” the commissioner’s office said in a statement.
Any change to the 162-game schedule would necessitate bargaining over an array of issues, including when and how much players get paid and how much major league service they are credited for. Service time determines eligibility for free agency and salary arbitration.
The last time MLB had a mass postponement of openers was 1995, when the season was shortened from 162 games to 144 following a 7 ½-month players strike that also wiped out the 1994 World Series.
After a 32-day spring training lockout in 1990, the opening was delayed until April 9, the season extended by three days to allow each team a full 162-game schedule.
Baseball’s first strike lasted from April 1-13 in 1972, the season starting April 15. Teams played 153-156 games.
--The PGA Tour has now cancelled all events through the PGA Championship (May 14-17). They hope to hold the PGA at a later date, but who the hell knows. No one knows.
Needless to say, this applies to all six Tours, including the Champions Tour.
I’ll have more on the impact on sponsors and the local communities they serve at a later date.
--I’d say the idea of the proposed Premier Golf League is now dead, with No. 2 in the world Jon Rahm saying he would not join the splinter tour, thus joining world No. 1 Rory McIlroy and world No. 3 Brooks Koepka in declaring himself out.
“I think what I’m going to do is focus on just the PGA Tour,” Rahm told Golfweek. “At the end of the day I’m a competitor and I’m going to stay that way.”
Last month Rory became the first to declare himself out on the League concept, which would have seen 48 chosen players pitted against each other in team and individual play around the world in lucrative events with guaranteed money. McIlroy said he was uncomfortable with a requirement to play 18 events and that he didn’t like where the money was coming from. The League is partly financed by the investment arm of the Saudi Arabian government.
Koepka followed McIlroy’s lead in telling the Associated Press he too was out. “I am out of the PGL. I’m going with the PGA Tour. I have a hard time believing golf should be about just 48 people.”
PGA Tour commissioner Jay Monaghan made clear to his players at the beginning of the year that anyone committed to the league would no longer be able to play the Tour.
--Churchill Downs on Tuesday rescheduled several events and earlier suspended operations at some of its locations amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
The company said the 146th Kentucky Derby will be moved to Sept. 5. The Derby is a consistent $400 million economic boon for Louisville with two weeks of events and celebration in the city.
The company also temporarily suspended operations at some of its locations, including casinos in Mississippi, Illinois and Ohio.
But moving the Derby to September really screws things up for the horses and their trainers. It’s a methodical process with the prep races that have already begun designed to ensure the horses are in top form for the Run for the Roses.
--The French Open was rescheduled for Sept. 18 to Oct. 4. It was originally slated to begin May 18.
--Major-college athletic directors are planning on the NCAA not being able to cover all of the revenue it will lose because of the cancellation of March Madness. Ordinarily the association distributes $600 million to Division I schools and conferences in the spring.
According to USA TODAY, the association has $250 million to $275 million in business-interruption insurance connected to the tournament, but you can imagine the crush on insurance carriers from businesses…all over the world!
Top 3 songs for 3/17/62: “Hey! Baby” (Bruce Channel) #2 “Midnight In Moscow” (Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen….years ago I was in Moscow at a big restaurant and the house band suddenly played this…it was just a fun moment, after many beers and some heavy Eastern European food…) #3 “Don’t Break The Heart That Loves You” (Connie Francis…great tune…her music is very soothing during pandemics…)…and…#4 “Let Me In” (The Sensations) #5 “Duke Of Earl” (Gene Chandler) #6 “Her Royal Majesty” (James Darren) #7 “What’s Your Name” (Don & Juan) #8 “Crying In The Rain” (The Everly Brothers) #9 “Break It To Me Gently” (Brenda Lee…another great one…) #10 “Percolator” (Billy Joe & The Checkmates…meanwhile, the Beatles are playing in Hamburg, Germany, perfecting their sound… ‘B+’ week…)
NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship Quiz Answer: Three to score 40 points in the title game.
Bill Walton, UCLA, 44, 1973 against Memphis State…great YouTube clip on his spectacular 21 of 22 from the field performance.
Gail Goodrich, UCLA, 42, 1965 against Michigan.
Jack Givens, Kentucky, 41, 1978 against Duke.
Next Bar Chat, Monday. Donald Trump and the USFL.