Joe Santoro: How good is Tom Brady? We’re going to find out | NevadaAppeal.com
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Joe Santoro: How good is Tom Brady? We’re going to find out

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talks to offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich during an NFL football training camp practice Friday, Aug. 28, 2020, in Tampa, Fla.
AP Photo/Chris O’Meara, File

Football is back. There was already a college football game last weekend (Central Arkansas beat Austin Peay, 24-17) and more are on the way this weekend. The NFL season is just a week away. This month just might be the greatest in sports history with Major League Baseball, the NHL, NBA, NFL and college football all active and playing meaningful games. It wasn’t that long ago when the only thing sports fans had to watch was a one-sided Michael Jordan documentary that reminded us that he was really good at basketball. Now we will find out if Tom Brady is still really good at football.

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Remember when most everyone laughed at a 45-year-old George Foreman winning the WBA and IBF heavyweight boxing titles by beating Michael Moorer? Well, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and a 43-year-old Tom Brady will take on the New Orleans Saints and a 41-year-old Drew Brees next weekend to open their seasons. It will be like watching Pro Football Hall of Fame busts with arms coming to life. Why would a couple of 40-somethings still risk their health and safety by playing the violent sport of football during a pandemic? It’s the same reason why we will watch.

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The best quarterback matchup of the NFL’s first week will take place in the league’s first game Sept. 10 when the Houston Texans meet the Kansas City Chiefs. Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson and Chiefs’ quarterback Patrick Mahomes are both just 24 years old. The two were born just three days apart (Watson on Sept. 14, 1995 and Mahomes on Sept. 17, 1995). Mahomes and Watson are arguably the two best quarterbacks in the NFL right now and their rivalry is this decade’s Brady vs. Peyton Manning. The NFL sure knows how to kick off a season.

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The media already has Brady and the Bucs in this year’s Super Bowl. But how good, really, are the Bucs? Brady was fairly average a year ago in New England where he was comfortable. He has more weapons in Tampa, with Rob Gronkowski, Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, LeSean McCoy and, now, Leonard Fournette. But the Bucs scored 458 points a year ago and won just seven games. That defense is still pretty bad. The national media never figured it out but it was defense that carried Brady to many of his Super Bowls in New England. It’s doubtful that a 43-year-old Brady can carry this Bucs defense to a Super Bowl.

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How many times do you think the television and radio announcers doing Washington Football Team games this year will say the word “Redskins?” The over-under is 100. And it will be the most interesting thing about Washington Football Team games this season. Then again, you could take a swig of beer each time you hear the team’s former name so the afternoon won’t be a total loss.

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It seems that there will be fans at some NFL games this season. Most teams are not selling tickets to their first few games of the year and are waiting to see how the pandemic develops. But some teams, namely Dallas, Indianapolis, Miami, Jacksonville, Kansas City, are saying they will have fans in the stands (roughly 20 percent of capacity) for their openers. If all goes reasonably well expect more teams to do the same as the year progresses. You can also expect MLB to consider opening its gates come World Series time if the COVID-19 spikes don’t get out of hand by late September.

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Football in person is a truly awful sport. No matter where you sit you miss about 80 percent of the game. Most everything is happening a mile away and it is almost impossible to see who is doing it. Getting in and out of the stadium area is a nightmare. The fun in going to a football game, of course, is tailgating and eating and drinking at the game. OK, it’s basically just eating and drinking. And you can do that at home a lot cheaper. Yes, if you go to the game you can also verbally abuse fans that wear the opposing team’s colors and watch the cheerleaders for three hours. But football is clearly a television sport. It is why it has become so popular. Well, that and the fact that you can easily bet on games and play fantasy football, two other things that don’t require you to be at the stadium. The NFL doesn’t need fans at the stadiums. Television pays their bills (and then some) and no fans in the stands means more eyeballs on the television sets (and other screens) so everyone is happy.

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The Chicago Cubs announced this week that they are looking into adding a sports book at Wrigley Field or somewhere in the surrounding neighborhood. Sports betting is about to take over this country and the Cubs, understandably, just want a piece of the pie. About two dozen states have added sports betting in the last couple years and more will do so in the coming months. It is going to be everywhere, in every state and in practically every professional sports stadium. Remember back in the day (about 18 months ago) when Nevada was the only state offering sports betting? It was like ESPN back in 1979 and 1980 when it was the only station offering sports programming 24 hours a day. Well, ESPN adapted and survived (sort of) and Nevada sports books will do the same. Hopefully.