In the midst of a global pandemic racing out of control, a plummeting stock market, and government restrictions on how many people could gather in one place, six-time Super Bowl winning quarterback Tom Brady announced this morning on social media that he will not play again for the New England Patriots.
Now die-hard Pats fans are collapsing like Tony Eason in Super Bowl XX. Where are the bars when you need them?
Closed, like just about everything else.
“I will always remember where I was when I heard the news about Tom Brady,” said Patriots fan Wendy Buglio, “which is stuck at home.”
Yes, reality check — most of us are stuck at home in an urgent effort to stop a pandemic. There are several things more important than sports going on in the world right now. People are hoarding toilet paper. Hand sanitizer is replacing Krugerrands in the concrete bunkers of doomsday preppers.
It was always possible Brady would exit this year, and in recent days it felt inevitable. But today of all days? With an unlimited amount of time and silence to suffer it?
It’s OK for fans to admit we are bummed about current developments in our cherished pastime of Boston sports.
The Boston Bruins are in limbo while holding the best record in the National Hockey League.
The Boston Celtics had surpassed every preseason prediction when the National Basketball Association shut down a week ago. (If you also bet the OVER on Celtics season wins last October, join my existential misery.)
So much has happened in the world since the big winter baseball news that the controversial trade feels surreal, like some dream we had after a head injury, but when Major League Baseball comes back, Mookie Betts will be a Los Angeles Dodger.
And now the kids of Tampa Bay might soon be strutting around in orange/pewter TB12 hats, if only in groups of 10 or fewer.
“You have to wonder, “Are there any shoes left to drop?’” said Rick Grossman, 65, of Branford, Conn., a Patriots season ticket holder for 49 years, in an interview an hour or so after Brady announced that he was not coming back. “It is a dark day in New England. Everything has just gone to hell.”
Grossman said he was watching CNN when the station interrupted ongoing coronavirus coverage for the breaking Tom Brady update.
“For that brief span of time, for one shining moment, Brady took coronavirus off the air,” Grossman said. “But now it’s back to normal.”
Back to normal.
It’s amazing what feels normal now.
The truest sign of normalcy in Boston on Tuesday may have been trouble for commuters on the MBTA’s Red Line, such as the trash fire that filled the Quincy station with acrid smoke during the morning rush.
Grossman, who coordinates the P-10 Patriots Nuts fan club and Gillette Stadium tailgating group, is so desperately sports starved that he hijacked a Boston Globe interview about the Brady news and sent it careening down a tangent on other potentially available quarterbacks, wandering in an analysis of Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston’s collegiate career at Florida State.
Buglio, a 45-year-old Patriots fan from Arlington, said in a phone interview that she was sipping from a Patriots mug while trying to keep the Brady departure in perspective.
“I’m trying very hard right now to stay grateful for everything we have,” she said. “But ahh! I thought coronavirus was the worst thing that was happening right now. I guess I’m a Patriots fan first and a Brady fan second,” so she will root for New England to keep winning while keeping an eye on wherever Brady goes next. “I know we’ve been spoiled. Call me when [head coach] Bill Belichick leaves. That will be the next thing we have to deal with.”
Buglio began following Patriots football in the Drew Bledsoe quarterbacking years, but didn’t really become a serious fan until after Brady took over in 2001. There is a whole generation of younger New England fans who have never seen what consistently bad quarterback play looks like, and a whole generation of older fans terrified to go back to it.
“Are we supposed to be saying right now, ‘In Belichick we trust?' ” Buglio said.
What else can a fan do? Other than praying that that Patriots backup quarterback Jarrett Stidham is another star in the making. Let’s do that as soon as the churches reopen.