An Allegany Radio Corporation Sports Column By Mike Burke

Could be worse — you could be a Boston sports fan

MIKE BURKE
Allegany Radio Corporation Sports
Selection Sunday brought Big 12 Tournament reruns on ESPNU, tennis reruns on the Tennis Channel, rodeo on ESPN and something called Snocross racing afterward.
The Selection Sunday evening features were “McLintock!” and “The Longest Day,” which, in hindsight, seemed symbolic, even if unintentional.
On Monday, let’s see … Oh, yes, all bars, restaurants and gyms were closed in just about every state other than West Virginia, with West Virginia’s Last Call coming Tuesday.
So, since Tuesday was St. Patrick’s Day and since there was nowhere around here to wear the green, except home, what better way to spend the evening than to watch “The Quiet Man”? It never fails.
That brings us to mid-week, with the list of possibilities including season 1, episode 1 of “The Wire.” Or maybe Ken Burns’ “Baseball” or “The Godfather.” With any and all, however, an early nap is likely since every word of dialogue has been committed to memory, thanks largely to seemingly hundreds of previous viewings of all of them.
Although, somehow, it seems something new is still detectable with each viewing of “The Wire,” which is further testament to just how remarkable of a production it is.
You know where this is headed. No, actually, none of us know where this is headed, because each new moment of each new day brings enormous explosions of isolated nothingness.
“Fools” said I, “You do not knowSilence like a cancer growsHear my words that I might teach youTake my arms that I might reach you”But my words like silent raindrops fellAnd echoedIn the wells of silence
Or perhaps we have entered Hotel California. You can check out anytime you like, but you can never leave!
Maybe we all really should just read a book …
But, wait. Something else did have our attention on Tuesday. What was that? … Oh, yes, Tom Brady left the New England Patriots; that’s it.
Whah?
Yes, that’s right, Tom Brady announced to the world on Tuesday that the rest of his football journey will take place somewhere other than in New England, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers being front and center as the landing point.
The news of Brady’s departure and the NFL quarterback shuffle that ensued in its wake, was something many of us outside of Boston needed to follow all day Tuesday, because at last something in the world of sports had taken place that could distract us from the misery and the gloom that is taking place inside and outside of our social distancing barriers.
Naturally, it was the very last thing the sports fan in Boston needed to hear with a long night ahead of not being able to head to Cheers to drown his sorrows. And on St. Patrick’s Day of all days — St. Patrick’s Day in Boston, no less, following a winter in which the Red Sox had already traded Mookie Betts, the latest in a long line of icons for the Olde Towne Team.
Many experts have many definitions as to what constitutes Greatest Quarterback Ever and, like him or not, Brady fits the bill on most of them.
For the last 20 years, Brady and head coach Bill Belichick have led the Patriots to nine Super Bowls and six Super Bowl championships as well as 17 division championships in 18 seasons with Brady as the starter.
Yes, there was Deflategate that certainly, and should have, tarnished Brady’s Golden Boy image, but no matter how you choose to cut it, he is one of the greatest quarterbacks, greatest football players and greatest winners in the history of professional sports. And at age 43, he truly believes he has plenty more to win.
Not that Belichick probably doesn’t believe that, too, but the perception here is he did not want to wait around until Brady was 45 to find out, and Brady has repeatedly made it clear he intends to play until he is 45.
For those Patriots fans who are unable to fathom seeing Brady play in a uniform other than the Patriots’, that is understandable; but not unprecedented. We thought the same thing about John Unitas, Joe Namath, Joe Montana and Peyton Manning. Not to mention Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Michael Jordan and, oh, yes, a fellow by the name of Babe Ruth? I believe the folks in Boston know a little something about that Baltimore lad.
Sleazy Patriots owner Robert Kraft put it out there loud and clear on Tuesday that this was not his idea. And while he didn’t once say it was Belichick’s doing, he didn’t leave much room for interpretation.
Until somebody says something more definitive, or until the book comes out (and it will), the perception will remain that Belichick just didn’t want to hang with a middle-aged quarterback for two or three more years no matter who that quarterback might be.
In fairness, though, it should not come as a surprise if we should happen to learn that both Brady and Belichick were in agreement that a new start was in order — for Brady and for Belichick and the Patriots.
All good things come to an end, after all, and though the Patriots were 12-4 last season, they hardly resembled the great Patriots teams of yore, and a big reason why seemed to be the depleted receiving corps New England put on the field, with the most glaring absence being that of retired tight end Rob Gronkowski.
Never was Gronkowski’s true greatness more evident than last season when he wasn’t there when the Patriots found themselves in crunch time late in games. Never had it been so clear just how many messes Gronkowski cleaned up for the Patriots until last season when there was nobody there to clean them up.
Will Brady find his new fixer in Tampa? He and many others believe that he will. And keep in mind, despite being the best quarterback in the league for nearly 20 seasons, this marks the first time in his Hall of Fame career that he’s been a free agent.
In the past, Brady always agreed to adjust his contracts to make them salary-cap fits for the sake or roster flexibility. So it’s hard to blame somebody for wanting to find out what still might be out there for him, particularly with all he did for the New England Patriots.
And who knows? Maybe Brady and Belichick simply wanted to go their own ways. Maybe they’re curious as well to see if one really did make the other one, or if the other one made the one.
Not being a Patriots fan, it just seems quite silly to me that they couldn’t be content to continue doing it together. But, as my old girlfriend Mary used to say to perfectly solve any and every mystery or situation that she ever encountered on God’s green earth, “Oh, well.”
But at least it gave us something to do on Tuesday.
Mike Burke writes about sports for Allegany Radio and Pikewood Digital. He began covering sports for the Prince George’s County Sentinel in 1981 and joined the Cumberland Times-News sports staff in 1984. He was the sports editor of the Times-News for nearly 30 years. Contact him at mike.burke@alleganyradio.com and follow him on Twitter @MikeBurkeMDT