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It was a memorable sports week for some bad reasons

By Tom King - Staff Writer | Mar 23, 2020

We will always remember the Week of March 15.

And for many, not fondly.

It was the week our world as we know it basically shut down in spurts.

It was the week the world for New Hampshire high school winter athletes shut down, and spring athletes are wondering if they’ll have a spring.

And it was the week that Tom Brady left the Patriots.

That alone is enough to brand this past week a nightmare.

The question everyone has is when will we wake up?

Still, it’s a week that’s going to be part of history, and that includes sports history.

So let’s review:

SUNDAY EVENING, MARCH 15

It’s not too eventful, but the NFL generally lets it be known that free agency and the start of the league year will go on as scheduled. That means Monday the Tom Brady Watch is on full alert. Also that night, Devin McCourty, still property of the Patriots, announces he’s agreed to a contract extension with the team.

MONDAY, MARCH 15, NOON

Yes, 12 p.m. arrives and NFL Free Agency begins with what’s called the “legal tampering period”. The dominoes begin to fall with free agents, trades, and tags. The Patriots slap the franchise tag, surprisingly, on offensive lineman Joe Thuney.

The biggest news of the day is the trade that sends top receiver DeAndre Hopkins from Houston to Arizona in exchange for draft picks and running back David Johnson. A shocker.

MONDAY, 3:08 p.m.

The NHIAA sends out an email that announces, to no one’s surprise, that the winter tournaments that were still ongoing have been cancelled. That’s it for the winter season, impacting the Bishop Guertin girls basketball team’s Drive for Five and the title hopes of four local Division I teams alive in the boys tourney, not to mention Hollis Brookline in Division II.

“We recognize that this decision will be a disappointment to our student-athletes, coaches, and fans; yet given the uncertain nature of the weeks to come, we feel that there is no alternative,” the statement says. “The NHIAA shares in the frustrations of our student-athletes, yet we hope this decision will allow them to move forward and adjust to the new normal of their educational experience for the next several weeks.”

Bummer.

LATE MONDAY AFTEROON

The NFL Networks reports that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers send word to the Tom Brady camp that they wanted him to be their next quarterback. The wait begins for the Patriots to try to do the same thing. They never did.

MONDAY EVENING, TIME UNKNOWN

At some point, Tom Brady visited Robert Kraft at one of Kraft’s homes, we don’t know where but likely in New York. Kraft later said he expected Brady to tell him he wants to stay and they’d work out a deal; instead, it was to say farewell.

TUESDAY, MARCH 17, 9 A.M.

It was not going to be a happy St. Patrick’s Day.

The coronavirus pandemic craze is put on hold. Patriot fans have what to some is an even bigger tragedy – Tom Brady posts a good-bye to fans on social media, entitled, “Forever a Patriot”. In his post he thanks fans, management, coaches, now-former teammates, and finally toward the end saves the worst for last.

“I don’t know what my football future holds but it’s time for me to open a new stage for my life and career.”

The sting has to be still there.

TUESDAY EVENING, AROUND 7 P.M.

News starts to filter via ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the Buccaneers and Brady were closing in on a deal, looking like in the range of $30 million per. And of course there’s all sorts of debate over what the Patriots really, if anything, offered Brady.

Soon after, word is that the L.A. Chargers dropped out of any bidding for Brady.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18

A fairly quiet day, although the Patriot departures keep mounting, mainly to reunite with former Pats coaches. Around noon, Duron Harmon was dealt away to the Detroit Lions. Later that day, Danny Shelton agrees to a deal with Detroit.

Later in the day, the Patriots do make an addition, agreeing to terms with former Tampa defensive lineman Beaux Allen. Allen for Brady? Seems like a fair deal, right? Later that night Kyle Van Noy and the Dolphins agree to a deal, reuniting the personable linebacker with the coach credited with helping to turn him into the fairly valuable player he’d become, Brian Flores.

WEDNESDAY, 4 P.M.

Free agency officially begins, but there are no official announcements because the NFL won’t allow them until players undergo physicals from the teams that sign them. And they can’t, by a coronavirus related madate, travel to the team facilities.

Later in the evening ESPN says contract language in the Brady contract with the Bucs still being worked out.

THURSDAY, MARCH 19

An eventful day in other sports, but not so much with the Patriots. The word breaks that Brady will undergo a physical in New York that the Bucs will apparently honor,so the Watch continues.

At 5 p.m, the Red Sox announce that ace pitcher Chris Sale will have Tommy John surgery. Like the news on Brady, it wasn’t completely unexpected. Sale had seen multiple doctors in the weeks prior about his ailing left elbow and the word was that rest would be the first solution. Obviously, with camps shut down, etc., and a partial season at best on the horizon, it made sense to go ahead and rip off the bandaid, although the Sox deny that was their thinking.

Then, another bombshell – at 7:40 p.m., word breaks that a Boston Celtic had tested positive for COVID-19. The Celtics don’t name the player in the statement, but about 20 minutes later guard Marcus Smart tweets out that he is the player, and in a brief video says he has been quarantine, shows no symptoms, and tells everyone to be careful and safe.

Wow.

FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 9:15 a.m.

Brady does it again, ruining our mornings and basically the entire day. He posts on social media a picture of him signing his contract with Tampa Bay, and a statement as well, with these words the cutting edge: “I’m starting a new football journey and thankful for the @buccaneers for giving me the opportunity to do what I love to do.”

Later in the morning, some details of the deal come out, it’s for two years, $25 million per guaranteed, with $4.5 million each year possible in incentives. Ouch.

And Patriots owner Robert Kraft adds fuel to the fire when he implies to the NFL Network that, without naming names, others left Brady unhappy and there was nothing Kraft could do. Hello, Bill Belichick.

Oh, shortly after 6 p.m. it’s learned the Patriots have signed a fullback, former Brown and Packer Danny Vitale.

Who cares.

SATURDAY, MARCH 21

Just a couple of things: The Colts release backup QB Brian Hoyer, immediately fueling spectulation that Hoyer would be scooped up by the Patriots. Nothing yet as of that day.

And also, after several pokes and prods to do something, including from Massachusetts attorney general (and former Winnacunet soccer, hoop star) Maura Healy, Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs and his family announce a $1.5 million fund has been established for TD Garden part-time workers left out in the cold thanks the COVID-19 related suspension of the NHL season. The Bruins are the last NHL team to make such a gesture. “We thank our (workers) for their patience and understanding whie we worked through the complexity of this unprecendented situation,” the B’s statement reads.

Unprecendented situation. Unprecendted week.

And there will likely be more ahead.

Tom King may be reached at 594-1251 or tking@nashuatelegraph.com. Also, follow King on Twitter (@Telegraph_TomK).

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