How Would the NBA Look if it Came Back this Season?

By Saransh Sharma and Anish Dhondi

37 days ago, the NBA was the first American sports league to shut down its current regular season due to the Coronavirus outbreak, but as always, Commissioner Adam Silver is thinking one step ahead, which is figuring out how the NBA could be reopened. Many people have speculated as to if the NBA should continue the regular season upon return, go straight to the playoffs, play all games in one state or city, and even the possibility of having teams play with no fans in attendance for the next 12-18 months. The NBA also announced today that they are keeping 25% of the paychecks for every player this season after May 1st. In more player-related news, Utah Jazz players, including most publicly Donovan Mitchell, have voiced their frustrations towards teammate Rudy Gobert and how to deal with the way he handled the Coronavirus situation, and took the whole thing seemingly as a joke before eventually seeing himself and Mitchell get the virus. A lot of ideas have been thrown around, and the recent outreach by US President Donald Trump to reopen the league has people wondering how it could reopen, and which teams could thrive and which teams are ready for big changes. Here is the latest of what is being said about the NBA coming back:

The NBA Has a 25-Day Training Camp, Then Resumes the Season

With the strict quarantine in place in the US, it’s unrealistic for NBA players to continue the regular season with a couple days notice. There must be a detailed month long plan to slowly ease players back into games for their own safety. Many NBA players have had no access to gyms or basketball courts during the quarantine and with the fast-paced current NBA it’s vital that players constantly work to stay in shape for the season to avoid injuries. Although commissioner Adam Silver said the NBA is unable to make any decisions about re-opening until May, there have been proposals like the 25-day plan to be prepared. The first part of this plan consists of 11 day individual workouts so players can ease their way back into shape and prepare for games while maintaining social distancing. Then if the players are medically cleared, the individual workouts are followed by a 14 day training camp where the entire teams can practice. However, the regular season will most likely not resume as normal as a vital part of the game will be missing. The NBA is leaning towards playing the remaining games without fans in attendance. The games would most likely take place in a city with a low coronavirus count. With this proposal all teams and players would have to stay in hotels and continue to practice social distancing. NBA games would be played in a neutral court nationally televised with no home or away advantage and players would continue to be tested weekly. Another thing that is important to consider in this situation is that pushing the NBA regular season back would affect the start of next season. Adam Silver wants to make sure the next season isn’t delayed too far past November and given the current state of the pandemic, cancelling this NBA season is not preferred but it is not off the table.

President Trump and the Commissioners Working for Reopening ASAP

President Trump, like the rest of us sports fans, is missing sports quite a bit, and feels it is essential that we get sports back, as he has stated numerous times this past week about how we need sports to come back. While athletes like LeBron James and Mavericks Owner Mark Cuban would love to have fans present and would do anything in their power to come up with a scenario where fans can safely be brought back into stadiums, the odds certainly do not favor them, and they will have to have their seasons go on without the fans. 

At many press conferences, himself and White House Health Administrator, Dr. Anthony Fauci, have talked about reopening, and just yesterday morning, Dr. Fauci said that there is a very high chance that sports will return this summer, but no fans will be present. The current re-evaluation date for if the country is safe to open up certain businesses such as the NBA is May 1st, and by then, Fauci would like to answer questions such as the reopening of sports then. Fauci’s current idea is that the NBA, along with other leagues, have all the players come to one big city or area where Coronavirus is not a hotspot to avoid players having to travel, have them stay in hotels for the rest of the season, get tested every single week and be surveilled by their team medical staffers, and play the season out in neutral-site stadiums, although with no fans, whether you are playing a home or away game, it will not be noticeable. All games would also be aired to the public at home as normal regular season games would be, yet things such as commentators travelling and camera crews remain to be seen. Either way, assuming that by May 1st these questions are answered by Fauci and his team, the NBA and other sports will be coming our way this summer. 

The Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell Beef

There have been rumors about conflicts between Jazz players Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. The root of conflict originates from Rudy Gobert’s careless acts of touching all of the microphones on the desk mocking the seriousness of Coronavirus. Soon after, Rudy Gobert was the first NBA player tested positive for Coronavirus shutting down the NBA indefinitely. A couple days later reports of Gobert’s carelessness in the locker room arose as he was reportedly touching other player’s stuff and not taking the situation seriously. Donovan Mitchell was later tested positive for Coronavirus, which he assumes most likely came from Gobert, causing tension between the two Jazz stars. Rudy Gobert apologized for his actions however, the two didn’t talk for days and reports called their relationship “doesn’t appear salvageable”. A couple days ago, the media asked Gobert about his relationship with Mitchell and he said “It’s true that we didn’t speak for a while after this, but we spoke a few days ago,” and he continued that they’re “both ready to go out there and try to win a championship for this team.” Gobert also talked about not all relationships being perfect but he and Mitchell have the same goal for this thriving Jazz team to win a championship. We don’t know if the media is blowing their beef out of proportion or if Gobert is downplaying the situation. However, the Jazz organization has stated that they currently don’t plan to part ways with either Gobert or Mitchell in their attempt for a championship.

How the NFC South Became the League’s Most Stacked Division in 4 Days

By Saransh Sharma & Pranav Thiriveedhi

The NFC South for many years was the most QB-driven division in the NFL, with the record-breaking quarterback and Super Bowl XLIV MVP Drew Brees leading the Saints, and NFL MVP’s Matt Ryan and Cam Newton leading the Falcons and Panthers, respectively (somehow Brees has never won an NFL MVP award). For years, it was a division which saw Newton and Ryan’s teams going on playoff runs, and Brees being left out to dry with no help, or having to pull a Houdini act just to get to the playoffs, and then there’s the Buccaneers, who had famed 2015 No. 1 pick and National Champion Jameis Winston at QB, and despite some up-and-down seasons from him, the team hadn’t gone to the playoffs since 2007. However, since Newton and Ryan’s Super Bowl chokes, Brees and the Saints have built themselves through the NFL Draft, Ryan and the Falcons cannot get over their 28-3 blown lead in Super Bowl LI, Newton is being scapegoated for getting injured in one of the most dangerous sports in the world, and Winston throws nearly as many interceptions as he does touchdowns. Newton and Winston are currently free agents, and have been replaced by Teddy Bridgewater, and Tom Brady, the Greatest of All-Time. So now, the ship is re-written, with the NFC South back to being elite and QB-driven, but these weren’t the only big moves in the division:

Tom Brady Chooses the Florida Beaches

Let’s start with the obvious: Tom Brady. If it wasn’t for the Coronavirus pandemic, the Buccaneer’s signing of the six-time superbowl winning quarterback would be the top headline across the United States. Tom Brady joined the NFL in the year 2000, where he won six Super Bowls, nine AFC Championships, and 17 Division Titles with the New England Patriots. But now, in the year 2020, in one of the craziest offseasons in as long as I can remember, Tom Brady is leaving the team he played on for almost half of his life. Even though it is still months before the regular season’s start, no one can tell if this move was worth it for Tom Terrific. On March 16th, when free agency opened its door, several teams were in the bidding race for Brady, including the Patriots (of course!), Titans, Chargers, Broncos, Raiders, and Buccaneers. But on March 20th, Tom Brady officially signed a 2 year contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His new contract in Tampa guaranteed a $50 Million deal, also included with $9 Million in incentives. But the most interesting part of Brady’s new contract with the Bucs is the prohibited clause. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not allowed to use their franchise tag or trade Tom Brady while he is under that same contract. 

So, why did Tom Brady join the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? It obviously wasn’t for the money because other teams were offering Brady $30 Million per year or more. I think, and I’m going to go on a limb here and state that Tom Brady joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for his fit on the team, and the elite group of receivers the Buccaneers possess. The Buccaneers are home to two of the most explosive, elusive wide receivers in the game today: Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. Last season, the previous starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, threw for an astounding 5,109 yards with those two firing on all cannons on the offense. Now imagine what would happen if you were to take a league average Jameis Winston out of the center and replace him with arguably the greatest quarterback of all time. What are the odds Tom Brady and the Buccaneers don’t do something special next season? Tom Brady finally got his A grade receivers for the first time since he had prime Wes Welker, his top 10 offensive line, and a team more younger and healthier, something he never got on the Patriots. If the Buccaneers and Brady don’t make a run for the playoffs next season, I wouldn’t even know what to tell you.

Todd Gurley Goes Back to Georgia

Just two years ago, Todd Gurley was named the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year after having over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and 19 total touchdowns. That season was the best season of his career and the Sean McVay Rams offense looked like it was going to be dominant for years to come, despite an early Wild Card loss to the Atlanta Falcons. In 2018, Gurley had over 1,800 scrimmage yards and 21 total touchdowns, and this time, led his team to the Super Bowl, where he and the offense could get nothing going, getting embarrassed and putting up just 3 points total. Going into that game, however, the big storyline was that Gurley had some knee issues which slowed him down a bit in the playoffs, but mainly in the Super Bowl, where Super Bowl 50 hero CJ Anderson took the majority of the carries at Running Back. Just a month after the Super Bowl loss, Gurley was told by doctors that he had arthritis in his right knee. Gurley got surgery, yet the ‘arthritic component’ to the knee injury still remained, meaning that the arthritis could cause him to be injured yet again. Gurley went into the 2019 season with the possibility of being benched for guys like Malcolm Brown or Darrell Henderson, and there was even trade talk during the season. Gurley finished with career lows in carries and yardage, but was still 5th in the league in touchdowns. The lack of carries and yardage played a big role in the Rams lack of success this past season, going 9-7 and missing the playoffs. 

However, despite the rough year and the arthritis issue still looming, Gurley still is amongst the top in the league in terms of carries, yards, and touchdowns for running backs since he was drafted in 2015. The part that is hard to put together about him getting released is the fact that he produced great stats even with the injury scares and such, and even in his down year, it was his team that lost faith in his ability, as he just simply did not get the ball enough. 24 hours after being released, Gurley signed with the Atlanta Falcons for a 1-year prove-it deal, but I expect this to become long-term and a lethal combination for years to come, with Gurley being the clear favorite in the backfield, and QB Matt Ryan and WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. Gurley now has the best offensive line he has had since 2018, has an offense that is Super Bowl-caliber when healthy, and is very balanced. Expect Head Coach Dan Quinn to have the offense run through him early on in the season, and Gurley to just cruise to another great season from there.

Teddy Bridgewater is Officially a Starting QB Again

580 miles north of Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, the Panthers in Charlotte have also grabbed a new franchise quarterback, at least for the next three years. Teddy Bridgewater, star on the Minnesota Vikings (before his devastating injury), and savior on the New Orleans Saints, just signed a three year, $63 Million deal with the Carolina Panthers. The deal included a signing bonus of $15 Million and a number of incentives sprinkled in. Teddy Bridgewater just got his bag in Charlotte, but that means the exit for one the best quarterbacks in the NFC South, Cam Newton, who has been on the decline the last few years with the Panthers. I love Teddy Bridgewater’s new signing with the Carolina Panthers, but something feels wrong for me. The Carolina Panthers are not exactly the New Orleans Saints or Minnesota Vikings, both teams with one of the biggest and loudest fan bases in the country. And the way Teddy has moved throughout his NFL career, he has thrived on loving fanbases, something I feel Carolina won’t give him immediately. 

Teddy Bridgewater is also the man under center for one of the few teams in the NFL, where the fanbase believes a running back, in this case Christian McCaffrey for the Panthers, can lead their team to success. Bridgewater needs to “bridge” a great relationship with CMC off and on the field, because a great tandem of players in the backfield would really help the Panthers move ahead in an already stacked NFC South. Bridgewater also has great depth and deep threats through receivers DJ Moore, Curtis Samuel, and newly signed Robby Anderson (wideout who played for the Jets last season). With an offense possessing the ability to do really great next year, only time will tell for Bridgewater. A strong start to the season and no injuries will propel Teddy Bridgewater into the limelight with his new Carolina Panthers. 

Emmanuel Sanders Tries to Go for 4 Super Bowls with 4 Teams

As seen by the headline, Emmanuel Sanders has the chance to go to his 4th Super Bowl and for his 4th NFL team, something that no NFL player has ever done. Sanders’ career resume is one of the most consistent you will ever see in terms of stats, but he has not had his chance to shine ever since Peyton Manning retired from the NFL in 2016, leaving the Broncos with limited talent at the quarterback spot, hindering Sanders the most. Despite all of that, Sanders gave it his all in Denver for the next 3 seasons, before getting traded midseason this year to the San Francisco 49ers, who were 7-0 at the time, and eventually became the NFC Champions, and if Jimmy Garoppolo did not overthrow him in the 4th quarter of the Super Bowl, he probably would have won a Super Bowl with them, and stayed with the 49ers.

The move to go to New Orleans was a rather shocking one by Sanders. Many believed he would go to Dallas or Washington, the teams that showed lots of interest in him and needed a veteran presence at the wide receiver position, and were pass-happy offenses. But Sanders instead went to the most pass-happy offense in the NFL in New Orleans, and he has the chance to play with Drew Brees, the 3rd quarterback that will be a future-Hall of Famer throwing the ball to him. Much like in Pittsburgh and Denver, Sanders will play second fiddle behind Michael Thomas, as he was behind Mike Wallace and Demariyus Thomas in Pittsburgh and Denver. That being said, Brees now has Thomas, Sanders, Jared Cook, Tre’Quan Smith, and Alvin Kamara as his targets, which presents the scariest core of receivers in that department. With Sanders now in the mix, the Saints receivers have the edge over teams like the Buccaneers, but the big question will be, can Brees outplay Brady, and can he keep the Saints as not only NFC South favorites, but Super Bowl favorites? Sanders will play a huge role in deciding that, and consider his luck in the NFL, he will probably go to a Super Bowl as a Saint as well.

Should the NBA Pay the Players Regardless of Season’s Outcome?

By Saransh Sharma & Nikhil Pradeep

With the NBA currently suspended due to the current Coronavirus outbreak, there has been talk about whether or not the season will come back at all, as many players and owners are trying to push to come back as late as September, play with no fans, and then start the next season at Christmas (which could become a permanent change). There is even talk about going straight to the playoffs and finishing the season that way, not giving teams that are just outside the playoffs a chance to fight for their way back in. The problem with that is that most teams have only played around 65 games, and the last 17 games would give them the chance to come back, but with the problem of coming back late to finish the season, TV deals, fan and player safety, and much more, it seems as though there is still too much speculation and not enough evidence to predict a true decision. Here are the scenarios the NBA could go through, and how it would affect the players:

The NBA Enforces the ‘Force Majeure’ Rule

The ‘Force Majeure’ Rule is a rule in which the CBA of the league enforces a 1% salary loss per game cancelled during the events of a circumstance such as an epidemic or pandemic. For this to happen, the entire NBA season would have to be cancelled. The problem being right now is that the NBA does not want to have to deal with this in May or June if they still have not come to a decision about how to handle the remainder of the season. If they have not reached a resolution on cancellations of some sort, the result will be dealing with players getting restless and losing belief in the system being used to handle the situation at hand. Also, by that point in time, players would demand the option to keep their entire salary, or at least have the authority to negotiate their pay cuts in a different way. The NBA needs to find the solution soon before players get restless, and enforcing a ‘Force Majeure’ will definitely be something that Commissioner Adam Silver will want to spend more time trying to decide, as opposed to deciding to cut the regular season, which can be done as soon as right now. Also, it is important to note the impact that Adam Silver had on American sports, as him suspending the NBA season led to the near-immediate suspension of many other sports leagues in the US.

Cutting Player Paychecks

The other option the league can explore is to enforce a firm direction in their handling of the COVID-19 crisis, and create a concrete plan to cut player salaries starting on a specified date. While this would create some backlash from players, media, and even fans in a way, it makes sense on the NBA’s part in order to minimize the effect of the virus to the extent that they can control. This move also makes sense looking at the current economical impacts the virus is having on pretty much any sports league at the moment: they are losing revenue at a rate never seen before. The lack of activity shuts down any sort of sports related retail, stadium-dependent jobs, and ALL fan revenue as well, the latter of which is the real killer in this scenario. According to Shams Charania on Twitter, the NBA has proposed to the NBPA a 50% paycheck reduction starting on April 15th. As expected, the NBPA counter-argued this proposition with a 25% cut starting sometime mid-May. From the standpoint of a broke college kid like myself, NBA players already make a lot of money as is, and the more prominent figures already give up a good portion of their salaries to endeavors that aren’t hell-bent on benefiting themselves. The 50% paycheck reduction is then the best course of action, and one that in my mind the NBA should implement as soon as possible. Whichever route the NBA takes, a few things are for sure: cuts are most likely going to happen, the League is in for a fairly large monetary loss, and basketball isn’t coming back anytime soon. What matters now is how well they handle the situation, as the NBA in many ways sets the global standard in league operations, and could cause a domino effect for other leagues to follow in the same footsteps.

 

The Effect of No Wimbledon in 2020 on Tennis

By Saransh Sharma

Today, The All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) announced that The Championships, Wimbledon, has been cancelled in 2020 due to the Coronavirus outbreak. While it was most definitely the right thing to do given the circumstances in our world today, the fans and players are still in utter shock over the announcement. The oldest and greatest tournament in the history of the game has now been cancelled for the first time since World War II. This is the first Grand Slam tournament of the 2020 year to be cancelled, and after Roland Garros announced its postponement, many people believed maybe Wimbledon would too, but there just simply is not enough time in one year to do it all. The decision will have a huge effect on the world of tennis as we see it, and may even affect players going into the 2021 tennis season:

With the Olympics now in 2021, Players Have Less Time to Train

The hardest part for tennis players and all athletes in general is definitely the fact that you cannot train. While you can always workout and stay fit, not being able to have a racquet, get coaching, and just hit tennis balls is something that hurts a player long-term. After such a huge layoff from the game, players will have to spend time getting back into a flow and rhythm of how their daily routines with training and practice goes, and then they have to prepare for tournaments, Grand Slams, and the Olympics. Many players will also be skipping more tournaments than usual in order to represent their country in the Olympics in July of 2021, and with the tennis calendar a month ahead after Australian Open (Roland Garros and Wimbledon are played a month earlier than usual in order to fit the Olympics into the schedule), expect players to be a bit more cautious with their body, while also still trying to get a lot of matches in. 2021 will prove to be the toughest year of many tennis players’ careers.

Rankings Will Change Tremendously Over Wins and Losses

The players will also have to be mindful of how winning and losing can drastically affect the rankings, with those currently being frozen right now due to the Coronavirus indefinitely suspending play for this year. While points won and lost for each win and loss will not change, what will change is how the players play after such a long layoff. Lots of younger and lower-ranked players will have their chances to shine and beat the top players in the world, so keep an eye out for major changes in rankings come 2021. We could see guys like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal lose their top-2 ranking spots due to the competition in the mens side and how the layoff could affect them, and on the women’s side, where the rankings have not been safe for anyone for years with a lack of repeat women winners in many tournaments, those rankings could be a whole lot different than a year ago.

 

sportsthrills: The New Team and Our Mission

By Saransh Sharma

Almost 8 years ago, my mom told me to do something with my ‘ESPN-like’ sports knowledge and showcase this talent to the world. That morning, sportsthrills was born. Throughout the years, I have been writing, researching, posting, and promoting this blog to my family, friends, and the world of sports fans all across the world. In those 8 years, and at the time I am writing this post, my blog generated 6,643 views from 3,662 visitors. In my middle school years, the blog was booming, with the majority of my views coming from that time, and me having generated so many blog posts that year, but high school and the beginning of college, it fell off a bit. Now, I am at a point where I am building this back up and see an opportunity of growth and expansion for sportsthrills to not just be a blog, but eventually a brand.

While I still keep ownership and editorial leadership over what I have created, I now have a team of friends who are just as crazy, passionate, and knowledgeable about sports as I am, and bring tons of different viewpoints and expertise to the table to make this into something bigger.

Our mission is to empower people of all ages to showcase what they believe in and what they are capable of, as I did as a 6th grader, and show our viewpoints across to the people within the sports world, from the perspective of people in our generation, but not just on games, or players, but on the culture of sports, the issues that show up amongst these athletes, and how we as fans feel. Now, here is the team I assembled:

Saransh Sharma, Founder, Editor-in-Chief:

Hello everyone, I’m Saransh Sharma, I was born and raised in Northern Virginia, and I am currently a Business Major at Virginia Tech. I have been writing this blog for almost 8 years now and am excited for this next chapter and in bringing on a new team and outlook to sportsthrills. I am a huge fan of the Washington Redskins and Miami Heat, as well as Manchester United for soccer. I will be writing posts along with my teammates and also editing and posting all blog posts, and I will also be working on promotions through social media. I hope everyone enjoys the content and the new opportunities that await, and I cannot wait to work with this amazing team!

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Pranav Thiriveedhi, NFL Co-Analyst:

Hey guys, I’m Pranav Thiriveedhi. I was born in Toronto but lived a majority of my life in New Jersey, right out of Philly. Right now, I’m a CMDA Major studying at Virginia Tech, along with the others. I’m a huge sports fan in general, but I mostly follow football, basketball and hockey. I’m a die-hard Eagles fan and I also praise Tom Brady. So, in advance I would like to apologize for roasting the Cowboys every chance I get. I am a big Philadelphia and Toronto fan; in case any bias gets in the way. I’ll be writing posts mostly surrounding the NFL, so hope you guys enjoy the content, and I’m thrilled to be a part of this team!

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Nikhil Pradeep, NBA Co-Analyst, Twitter Manager:

What’s up everybody, I’m Nikhil Pradeep. I was born in Detroit, MI but I’ve spent the majority of my life in Northern Virginia. I’m an Engineering student studying at Virginia Tech along with the others. I mainly follow the NBA but also keep in touch with the NFL and the top soccer leagues around the world. Thus, I’m a big fan of the Redskins and Wizards, and an avid supporter of Borussia Dortmund in Germany. I’ll mainly be working on NBA related content for the blog, and I’m excited to be part of the team!

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Rohan Krishnan, NBA/NFL Co-Analyst, Graphics Designer:

Hey everyone, I’m Rohan Krishnan and I have spent most of my life in Northern Virginia. Currently, I am a Virginia Tech student studying Business. I am a huge DC sports fan and run fanpages for the Redskins and Wizards on Instagram. I also love working with Photoshop, so I will be providing graphics for sportsthrills. I am looking forward to working with this team!

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Anish Dhondi, NBA Co-Analyst, Graphics Designer, Instagram Manager:

Hey guys, my name is Anish Dhondi and I was born and brought up in Northern Virginia. I’m currently an Engineering student at Virginia Tech. I’m a huge basketball fan (favorite team is the Trail Blazers) and I also run my own NBA page on Instagram (@splashcenter). I’ll mainly be working on NBA related content for the blog and some photoshop graphics. I’m excited to be a part of the sportsthrills team and am looking forward to the future!

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TB12 to TB: How Brady’s Move Down South Affects His Legacy

Tom Brady might not have shocked the world by saying he was leaving the New England Patriots just two days back, but if you said that to me after he signed a 2-year, $41 million extension in 2016 after a season where Brady was one drive away from yet another Super Bowl appearance, I would have said you were crazy. If you said that his destination would be Tampa Bay, I would think you were even crazier. Either way, Brady in 2020, did just that, but he earned that right. Since that extension, Brady went to 3 Super Bowls in 4 years, and won 2 of them. Though he just left New England, here’s when the dominos started to fall, which led to the door opening for Brady to leave:

The First Fallen Domino: Jimmy G

Through all that, he endured the Deflategate suspension, nagging injuries to guys like Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, a new face in town in Jimmy Garoppolo, whom coach Bill Belichick loved, and much more. Keep that name in mind, however. A guy who was drafted in the second round in 2014 by New England after having won another Super Bowl, their first in 10 years. When Brady accepted his 4-game suspension in 2016, however, Belichick put in Jimmy G, who won his first 2 games, and then led the Pats to a third straight win before getting hurt and handing the ball over to rookie QB in Jacoby Brissett. But Belichick seemed to have fallen in love with Jimmy G and found his successor to Brady. Brady felt disrespected, and it fueled him to win another Super Bowl, in the infamous 28-3 blown lead by the Atlanta Falcons.

The Second Fallen Domino: The Unsung Hero, Danny Amendola

I wrote back after Super Bowl LII that New England’s demise had begun, as Brady had lost to backup QB Nick Foles and the Philadelphia Eagles in what is, in my opinion, the best Super Bowl I have ever seen. That offseason, he ended up losing receivers Danny Amendola and Brandin Cooks in free agency. The big name here is Amendola. Amendola for years had been the ‘third guy’ behind Rob Gronkowski and Julian Edelman, but he may have been the unsung hero for Tom Brady and the Patriots. Through the Super Bowl runs where New England beat Seattle and Atlanta, and lost to Philadelphia in an epic, Amendola was the one whom Brady used to always find in the clutch, his ‘Ol’ Reliable’, per se.

To me, I thought New England made the mistake of letting Amendola go instead of Julian Edelman or Chris Hogan because Amendola was a guy Brady counted on and was close with on and off the field. Amendola seemed to be the guy that would make the big catches and touchdowns in 4thquarters of close ballgames, most notably his game-winning touchdown catch against Jacksonville in the AFC Championship Game in 2017 to save Brady from being beaten by… Blake Bortles. Funny, right? Amendola wound up going to Miami, then Detroit with former Pats Defensive Coordinator Matt Patricia, and he’s still there now. Looking back on the past two years, however, and seeing how the offense played, Brady could have used Amendola in many clutch moments.

The Third Fallen Domino: Antonio Brown

I understand what Bill Belichick was thinking back in October 2018 when Antonio Brown got released. Great player, but we need to know if this guy is well-minded. The last thing Belichick wanted was to get a guy on his team that would be a distraction to the team, like Aaron Hernandez. At the time, AB had been lashing out many times on social media, such as with his former teammates in Pittsburgh, and at that time, when he hired marketing agents to get himself off the Oakland Raiders. Safe to say that Belichick doesn’t normally think players like AB would fit in ‘The Patriot Way’, but somehow, he signed him. AB lasted 11 days on the team before getting released again after sexual assault allegations (which had been going on when Belichick signed him).

But Brady grew a chemistry with AB in the short time. While the stats did not show it, their love on Twitter certainly has, when Brady showed respect for AB even after his departure from New England, and even now, with Brady now in Tampa, Antonio Brown still shows up on Brady’s radar. But this was where it all fell down for Brady in New England. Brady was not happy that a guy with the talent of AB was released, but by ‘The Patriot Way’, he was not the right guy. But with Gronkowski retired and AB gone (along with Chris Hogan gone in free agency and Demariyus Thomas traded midseason), Brady just had Edelman and James White to rely on. Those guys did not stay relatively healthy, the offensive line Brady relied on got hurt as well, and Brady wilted under the pressure a bit after the 8-0 start. He had a great last season in New England, but the team had no pieces around him to keep him from leaving.

So, Tampa is Home. Now What?

Well the legacy of Brady does not require him to win a Super Bowl necessarily. Like LeBron James when he went to the LA Lakers, Brady is putting himself in the toughest position possible, going into an NFC South division with Super Bowl contenders like the New Orleans Saints, who by the way, are led by Drew Brees, a top 5 QB of all-time, an Atlanta Falcons team that just signed Todd Gurley, and a young Carolina Panthers team. Brady easily just put himself in the most stacked division in the NFL, and with the new 14-team playoff (so 7 per conference), all 4 of these teams can be playoff and Super Bowl contenders in Brady’s way. Not to mention that the NFC also has Aaron Rodgers, another top 5 QB of all-time, a near-MVP in Carson Wentz, and the defending NFC Champs in San Francisco. (Side Note: My top 5 All-Time QBs are: Brady, Joe Montana, Peyton Manning, Steve Young, Drew Brees). Brady is definitely not expected to win a Super Bowl, but as a 43-year old who has shown he can still win 10+ games every year and win Super Bowls, the expectations are high. Brady will probably have to at least get Tampa Bay to the playoffs, something they haven’t done since ’07, and then a playoff win (or more). This is a team that before Brady never had hope, but he brings it. Fans are already flocking to get season tickets, players want to play for Tampa, life is good in Tampa right now. I mean, warm weather, a stadium with a pirate ship, and Tom Brady, what more do you need?

To me, Tampa can contend for a Super Bowl with Mike Evans and Chris Godwin as Brady’s weapons, his best since he had Randy Moss and Wes Welker, but the task is rather daunting. It’s hard to keep expectations low with Tom Brady, so I believe that he probably will take Tampa to at least one NFC Championship Game throughout his current contract (he signed a 2-year deal for $50M, fully guaranteed, with $9M available in incentives) to keep his legacy cemented as it is right now, which is as the Greatest of All-Time.

How Will Coronavirus Affect the Sporting World and its Fans?

The current pandemic of coronavirus that has occurred has truly changed the future of sports as we see it for 2020 and beyond. The NBA decided to have a hiatus after Utah Jazz player Rudy Gobert contracted the virus, which then led to many NCAA Conference tournaments being cancelled, which led to March Madness being cancelled. Then, the MLB had their season start postponed for at least 2 weeks, and the MLS has been shut down for at least 30 days. Around the world, the Premier League has been shut down until April after Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta and Chelsea Winger Callum Hudson-Odoi tested positive for Coronavirus. The Bundesliga, Ligue 1, LaLiga, Champions League, Europa League, and all country-run tournaments have been shut down until April. Not only has the sports world been affected, but the real world as well. Currently, many of the States in the US have gone into States of Emergencies, colleges are online for the rest of the semester, and in places like Italy, you cannot leave your house unless for an emergency. Here is what the effects of what has transpired will be, and what more we can expect to happen, not just in our country, but throughout the world:

Did NBA Commissioner Adam Silver Save Sports As We Currently See It?

I do not believe many people would have thought that sports being shut down in the United States was even imaginable if it were not for Adam Silver having suspended the NBA. The important thing to realize is that Adam Silver did the best thing possible by suspending the NBA season. The importance of keeping the players, coaches, front office, team staff, media, and fans safe is far more important than the remaining 20+ regular season games plus playoffs. Not only did Silver suspend the season, but he already came up with a plan for how players and teams must react over the ‘minimum of 30 days’ hiatus.

The reason why it is important to note how important this gesture was by Adam Silver is the fact that every major league in our country followed suit. The NCAA Conferences cancelled their basketball tournaments and all other sporting tournaments, as did the NCAA with March Madness and their championships, the MLB postponed their start by at least 2 weeks, the MLS and NHL shut down for a month, and the NFL, while their season is over, is discussing ways to change the NFL Draft. Also, multiple tennis tournaments supposed to happen in the US have been cancelled, and now even the French Open, and The Masters’ have been postponed.

Did Rudy Gobert Also Contribute to Saving Sports Now?

I know a lot of people have been giving Gobert a lot of hate for how he handled the situation and for originally taking the whole notion of Coronavirus and social distancing as a joke, but he has since owned up to it, made public statements, and donated money in order to let people know that this is very serious indeed. But if GObert did not get Coronavirus, Silver wouldn’t have suspended the NBA season and no leagues would have followed (at least in the United States). So, indirectly, Rudy Gobert did help out with that. But this should be a lesson to everyone to practice social distancing, keep your hands to your own belongings, and if you do touch someone else’s belongings, to wash your hands and clean the things that you use frequently.

Will and When Will the 2020 Olympics Happen?

Honestly, while I do think the Olympics will happen, the question is of when. There is currently talk of many Olympic qualifiers being cancelled (not even postponed), such as the 2020 Euros and Copa America for soccer now happening in 2021. As of this past week, the Olympics are scheduled to go on as scheduled, but the talk of postponing them is very serious. Honestly, I think the best option is to hold the Olympics in 2021 after all the qualifiers which are now getting postponed to 2021 are happening.

How Would the NFL Draft Take Place?

So, before the outbreak of coronavirus, the NFL Draft was set to take place in Las Vegas at the Fountains of Bellagio, but now no one seems to know what is going to be the alternative option. Players and families will definitely be asked to stay home, and the NFL has already said there will be no fans present. I am not really sure what the NFL is going to do about it, but I have seen that they are discussing what to do, as they have already indefinitely cancelled OTAs and free agency visits.

How Do College Athletes Get Affected?

The NCAA had announced a few days back that all spring sports players are getting what is called a ‘Redshirt Corona Year’ (not the official name, but it is the name that spring sports athletes used in order to plead for this to be taken into effect), meaning that now all spring sports athletes will have an additional year of eligibility, and that this lost year will not affect them. So, while academically they can move on, athletically their eligibility will not be affected.

When Will the NBA Come Back, and Will the NFL Be Affected?

The current talks are that the NBA could come back around July and end in August, but whether this means that the regular season will continue or not remains to be seen. NBA player Spencer Dinwiddie suggested that we have a 28-team tournament in replacement of the NBA Playoffs, almost as if we are making the NBA Playoffs like March Madness, and the NBA is taking that into consideration. On a more serious note, the NBA is discussing permanently starting the season on Christmas Day, as they did during the 2011-12 lockout-shortened season. That season ended like regular in June and the regular season was cut down to 66 games. Whether or not that is the new format of the regular season remains to be seen, but how this season plays out is so vital to the future of the NBA.

As for the NFL, with OTAs now cancelled, the talk of training camp being cancelled as well and going straight into preseason is a very real possibility. Assuming that the statement made from the White House that the Coronavirus lasts until July or August, training camp would be cancelled, and the NFL would have either have the choice of going straight to preseason or skip preseason and go into training camp in order to avoid player injury. With the new 14-team playoff being put into effect this upcoming season, avoiding player injury is more vital than ever, and with a 17-game regular season starting as soon as 2021, this coming season could be a way to see how shortened or no preseason would work out.

A General PSA

As I am writing this, I am currently at home with my family doing my best to practice social distancing and preventing the spread of Coronavirus. This virus is very scary, so I highly encourage everyone to please stay home and practice social distancing as much as possible. With many grade school and college students now finishing the rest of their semesters at home, and with many people working their jobs from home, it is imperative that we realize the seriousness of this. Sure, there are times when we will need to go out places and see people and go study or work, but health always comes first. So please, I encourage everyone reading this to please wash your hands constantly, practice best health and hygiene, practice social distancing, try to avoid big gatherings and going traveling or eating out, and most importantly, realize that this isn’t a joke and that we can go on with life, even though these tough times are upon us.