Trenni Kusnierek

Tom Brady getting 'The Last Dance' treatment is too much, too soon

Tom Brady getting 'The Last Dance' treatment is too much, too soon

“Know when to say when.” 

Are you old enough to remember that phrase? Tom Brady sure is. 

Nearly 40 years ago in 1982, Anheuser-Busch launched an ad campaign with the slogan “know when to say when” to combat drunk driving. I’m resurrecting that famous phrase for something far less dangerous, but still obnoxious — Tom Brady’s sudden obsession with attention.

Know when to say when, Tom. 

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The former Patriots quarterback (still weird to write) on Thursday tweeted out a trailer for an upcoming ESPN series entitled “Man in the Arena.” This will be a nine-part series about ... TBD.

I imagine we’ll get to see little Tommy in Northern California being adorable with his family. And I’m sure there will be footage and motivational quotes of a 10th-string guy at Michigan. Maybe we’ll even get a glimpse of never-before-seen video of Brady during his 20 years in Foxboro. 

Woof. 

The reason the ‘The Last Dance’ was a success is because it had been 22 years since Jordan and the Bulls took the floor together. It was not only a sporting retrospective, but a cultural one. 

Michael Jordan had two decades of reflection and maturity to look back on all of his successes and failures. Jordan could tell us about the competitive urges that really drove him because he was no longer competing. 

Brady and the Pats will be a whopping two years removed from their last title and Brady will (presumably) still be a member of the Buccaneers. There will be nothing revelatory because he’ll still be in the league. 

This is going to be Tom v Time 2.0. It’s going to be Tony Robbins platitudes sprinkled with a pre-game hype video.

The self-proclaimed team-first guy is now peddling his second memoir-like “documentary.” 

Brady should be above this. He shouldn’t need to tell his story while it is still being written, and yet, here we are.

Know when to say when, Tommy. 

What will sports look like when leagues start back up again?

What will sports look like when leagues start back up again?

Something is better than nothing. It kind of feels like a defeatist attitude, right?

Settling for less than what is deserved. But in the case of sports and COVID-19, I think it’s the only way forward.

Each week brings a new re-opening plan for sports.

Understandably, each proposal is met with trepidation. This virus has wreaked havoc on the world. There are numerous unknowns about how an individual will respond to infection. There is no treatment or vaccine. 

Despite all of the unanswered questions, public health officials (including Dr. Anthony Fauci) see a way forward when it comes to life and sports. 

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Most of us expect to live a new normal. We understand masks and social distancing will be a way of life. We realize our workplaces will look different than before. We comprehend the need to make concessions, even when we don’t want to. 

Now it’s time for sports to do the same.

With the exception of not allowing fans into stadiums and arenas, much of what we read about returning to sports starts and ends with testing and contact tracing. Obviously, this is a necessity. If we can’t test athletes and limit exponential spread, games are a no-go. 

But if I’m understanding the experts correctly, testing and contact tracing are not a panacea. We still need to take extreme precautions.

It is time to reimagine what sports will look like.

On Monday, Sean Doolittle of the Washington Nationals thoughtfully expressed his concerns about a haphazard return to the field. 

One tweet stood out more than others. When discussing the requirement for testing, Doolittle talked about the number of people who would be involved. 

He wrote: “So how many tests do we need to safely play during a pandemic? And not just tests for players. Baseball requires a massive workforce besides the players; coaches, clubhouse staff, security, grounds crews, umpires, gameday stadium staff, TV & media...we need to protect everyone.”

Sorry, Sean and the rest of the pro athletes out there, but we don’t need massive staffing. 

Something is better than nothing. Teams and players will have to acknowledge that like many of us, we will have to do more with less. 

Let’s start with my own industry: the media. 

With all due respect to the BBWAA (and other reporters/broadcasters in all sports) we don’t need to be at the games. It is not ideal, but we can report and broadcast from home. 

Writers can watch games on TV and conduct interviews via Zoom, or Skype or FaceTime. It will not be the same content as getting a guy in the heat of the moment, but it is serviceable. Teams can designate certain players daily (requested by media members) for pre- and postgame availability. Most reporters have established relationships with players, so if individual discussions are necessary, those can be arranged. 

As for broadcasting the games on TV, we are currently producing shows from bedrooms and going live from our living rooms. It can be done. 

(Pssst… industry secret. You would be surprised how often you are watching a game that is called from a booth at network headquarters.) 

Play-by-play and analysts can watch feeds on monitors and call games from a remote location. Sideline reporters can arrange interviews pre- and postgame and conduct those talks remotely, or they can contribute to the broadcast in another way.

In-stadium and arena staff should be limited to essential workers only. With no fans or media allowed, stadium staff and security numbers would be greatly reduced. Any person on-site should be required to wear a mask at all times. 

Same goes for managers, coaches, umpires, etc… Players should be mandated to wear masks unless on the playing field. 

I know athletes are creatures of habit and comfort, but honestly, tough s**t. 

You can stagger report times and limit the number of people in clubhouses and locker rooms. I also think you could ban, or at least limit, postgame showers altogether. When the game is over, you leave the premises unless the team is scheduled to leave for a road trip. Those can be staggered by bus departure. 

No more in-house meals. How about teams partner with local restaurants in each city? Those restaurants, in conjunction with team chefs and nutritionists, could prepare individually packed to-go meals. (Many of these restaurants are already cooking free meals for hospital workers, so they are well versed in large scale, safe, to-go operations.) Not only would this mean fewer people on-site, it would help struggling local businesses which will not be able to operate at capacity in the near future. Win-win.

Travel is a legitimate concern, but people are still flying commercial airlines. The numbers are limited, but in-flight staff are taking every precaution. Masks would again be mandatory by airline standards. While it won’t save the airline industry, team charters will be better than no flights at all. 

Hotels are already preparing for life in the time of COVID-19. Protocols are in place to limit staff, elevator use and housekeeping. In many hotels, in-room dining has been eliminated or severely restricted. 

None of this will be easy or comfortable, but when the medical community gives the OK, sports can and should return. 

Why adding Aaron Rodgers in 2021 makes sense for Patriots

Why adding Aaron Rodgers in 2021 makes sense for Patriots

Aaron Rodgers in a Patriots uniform. Can you imagine it? I can. 

When the Packers drafted Jordan Love in the first round, the football world went crazy. Speculation began immediately on what this meant for the future of Rodgers — both in the NFL and in Green Bay. Just Wednesday morning, Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk floated out a few teams that may be in the running for Rodgers in 2021. 

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The Patriots were one of the teams mentioned. Florio suggested Rodgers could head to New England next season if “Jarrett Stidham doesn’t pan out.” 

Yes, yes, give me all of the yeses. I’m sure you have a ton of questions. Let me answer them. 

Why, why, whyyyyyy

First and foremost, Aaron Rodgers is one of the most physically gifted quarterbacks in this era. Trust me when I say Packers fans have long wondered ‘what could have been’ if A-Rodge worked with Bill Belichick instead of Mike McCarthy. I’ll tell you what could have been — many more Super Bowls.

Maybe, but isn’t Rodgers getting old? 

Sure, Rodgers will be 37 next season, but look around, 40 is the new 35. Or something. At any rate, Belichick has already worked with an aging but talented quarterback. He knows how to maximize talent at any age. Why couldn’t he do the same with Rodgers? 

Put Aaron Rodgers and Bill Belichick on the same sideline and the Patriots could raise banner number seven. Maybe even number eight! 

Both men would be out to prove something. Rodgers desperately wants another Super Bowl, if only to stick to all the people in Green Bay who still think Brett Favre was the better QB. I still think Belichick would like nothing more than to win one without Tom Brady. 

What about Jarrett Stidham and building for the future, you ask? 

Great question. Here’s the answer. The Pats only go after Rodgers if Stidham stinks. And if he doesn’t work this season, why not bring in a future Hall of Fame player to bridge the gap? 

Let’s say the Patriots struggle next season and get a pick in the top 10 or 15 of the draft. Let’s assume they take a quarterback in the first round. Will that quarterback be ready to take the reins out of the gate? Hell no. But with one crummy year behind them, the Patriots could bring in Rodgers to help restore that winning feeling while allowing a young quarterback to learn and develop behind one of the best. 

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Rodgers seems like a jerk. Will he help a young QB learn? 

I’d like to think he doesn’t want to be like Favre. When the Packers drafted Rodgers, Favre wouldn’t give him the time of day. Rodgers has always resented the way Favre acted and hated the idea that fans preferred the Mississippi boy which makes me believe he’ll prove he’s “better.”

But, you say, doesn’t Rodgers have a terrible attitude?

Yes, he can be difficult. My green and gold heart has no problem admitting he often acts like an entitled, whiny, petulant child who has… ahem… difficulties respecting authority.

However, I have no doubt he would respect Belichick. Rodgers likes to think he is the smartest guy in the room. But the smartest guys know when to defer to a genius. I feel pretty confident he knows the Patriot Way is an express lane to Title Town. Rodgers would fall in line under Commander Belichick.

Lastly, Rodgers is a perfect cultural fit for New England. The guy is a Grade A, philanthropic, nerd. The Northern Cali boy would relish living in a city known for its academia, arts, and culture. He’d sit courtside at a Celtics game sipping Wyc’s fancy (and DELICIOUS) tequila at night and make the rounds at the State House during the day. 

Sure beats hanging out in Ashwaubenon.