Joe Santoro: Tom Brady in Tampa? So many questions | NevadaAppeal.com
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Joe Santoro: Tom Brady in Tampa? So many questions

By Joe Santoro For the Nevada Appeal
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady (12) waves as he walks off the field after an NFL football game against the Washington Redskins, Sunday, Oct. 6, 2019, in Washington. The New England Patriots won 33-7.
AP Photo/Nick Wass

Did the Tampa Bay Buccaneers do the right thing by choosing Tom Brady over Jameis Winston? Brady will be 43 years old if and when this coming NFL season begins. Winston will be 26. Over their first five full NFL seasons, Brady (2001-05) passed for 18,031 yards, 123 touchdowns and 66 interceptions. Winston (2015-19) has 19,737 yards, 121 touchdowns, 88 interceptions. Brady passed for 4,057 yards, 24 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year, completing 60.8 percent of his passes on 6.6 yards per attempt. Winston passed for 5,109 yards, 33 touchdowns, 30 interceptions on 8.2 yards per attempt. Brady’s quarterback rating last year was 88.0 while Winston’s was 84.3 (even with 30 picks). Brady’s offensive line only allowed him to be sacked 27 times last year. Winston was dumped 47 times. Brady played with a great defense last year, allowing him to throw safe, simple, short passes. Winston was always playing from behind, running for his life and had to take ridiculous chances just to stay in games (leading to 30 interceptions). The Bucs, which finished 7-9 last year, must think they are ready to win a Super Bowl.

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Winston, as of Thursday morning, was still out of job. The New England Patriots’ quarterback at the moment is 24-year-old Jarrett Stidham, a guy who was picked in the fourth round of the NFL draft last year out of Auburn and only tossed four passes (one was intercepted) last year behind a 43-year-old quarterback. Would Winston fit in at New England? Likely not. Patriots’ coach Bill Belichick’s head would likely explode with a quarterback who was picked off 30 times. But that would not happen in New England. Put Winston in the New England system and many of those interceptions would disappear immediately. You don’t, after all, have to throw the ball 20 yards downfield all the time when you are always leading. Don’t be shocked if Winston ends up in New England.

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Tampa Bay still seems like an odd choice for Brady. The San Diego Chargers always seemed like a better fit. The Chargers, who are fighting with the more popular Los Angeles Rams for ticket sales and respectability in Southern California, could have used Brady as a marketing ploy. Tampa Bay has no competition in football-crazy Florida. There are no Miami Dolphins fans in the Tampa area. Yes, Brady will sell tickets in Tampa but those tickets would have been sold anyway. Also, Brady could have started his next career in Los Angeles. What is he going to do in Tampa? Buy Rays season tickets? And then there is always Tom’s wife Gisele. She could have run for mayor in L.A. and won. If the Chargers, who let Philip Rivers simply walk to Indianapolis, could have signed Brady and didn’t then it is one of the all-time blunders in NFL history. Brady is not an aging decrepit Johnny Unitas, who the Chargers signed in 1973. Brady can still play a little. The Chargers desperately need attention. Brady, even if he never would have won a game, would have made the Chargers relevant.

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Brady’s departure just might be the most difficult farewell Boston-area sports fans have ever had to deal with. And that is saying a lot considering Boston has had more than its fair share of sports legends. Bobby Orr, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, David Ortiz, Larry Bird, Bill Russell, Carlton Fisk, Jim Rice, Babe Ruth, Phil Esposito, Eddie Shore, Manny Ramirez, Kevin McHale, Pedro Martinez, Wade Boggs, John Havlicek, Roger Clemens and Bob Cousy, just to name a dozen and a half. In Boston, the sports Mount Rushmore is Brady, Williams, Orr and Russell when you factor in longevity, championships and performance in the city of Boston. They were all arguably the greatest in the history of their sport. Russell was the greatest champion. Orr was the greatest defenseman. Williams was the greatest hitter. And Brady was the greatest quarterback. And they belonged to Boston. Williams and Russell never played for another city. Orr played for a few games in Chicago but nobody east of Lake Michigan will ever admit it. Brady, though, might do great things in another city, wearing a hideous Bucs’ jersey. That never should have happened. Brady should never put on another city’s colors.

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Who had the best season last year among former Nevada Wolf Pack men’s basketball coaches Eric Musselman and Mark Fox and current Pack coach Steve Alford? Well, they all did commendable jobs. All three got the most out of their teams in their first year at their respective schools. But the ranking would have to be, in order, Musselman first with Alford and Fox tied for second. It’s that close. Musselman was 20-12 at Arkansas and 7-11 in the difficult SEC. His Razorbacks were, at one time, 14-2 overall and 3-1 in conference. But then the take-no-prisoners SEC chewed them up and spit them out. Still, three of Muss’ dozen losses came in overtime and their 20-12 season was an improvement over their 18-16 of the previous year. Fox’ Golden Bears were 14-18 overall and 7-11 in the Pac-12. Cal had to play eight games against Top 25 teams and won two. Fox was handed a program that won eight games in each of the previous two seasons. Jumping up to 14 is quite an achievement, especially after Musselman stole one of Fox’s best players, 7-foot-3 center Connor Vanover, via the transfer portal. Alford had a strong season, going 19-12 overall and 12-6 in the Mountain West. But he lost his only game in the conference tournament to a No. 11 seed (Wyoming) and Musselman and Fox won their only games before their tournaments were canceled because of the coronavirus. Also, the Mountain West is not the SEC or Pac-12. Alford was handed a team that won 29 games, was ranked in the Top 25 all year and went to the NCAA tournament the year before.

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The NCAA tournament would have opened this week. And it might have been the most wide-open field in the history of the tournament (since 1939). According to Joe Lunardi of ESPN, the No. 1 seeds would have been Kansas, Gonzaga, Dayton and Baylor. Is that the weakest quartet of No. 1 seeds in NCAA history? It’s certainly not the strongest. The No. 2 seeds would have been San Diego State, Kentucky, Creighton and Florida State. The Wolf Pack of last year might have been better than all eight of the top two seeds in the four brackets combined. Well, let’s just say that the Pack of 2018-19 certainly had the potential to beat any of them.

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NBA commissioner Adam Silver said this week that he might want to stage charity games of some sort to give the nation a “diversion” during the coronavirus shutdown of all sports. That is a brilliant idea. Just test all the athletes and game personnel involved to make sure they are healthy and play the games in empty arenas without fans. They could pump in music and crowd noise and nobody watching on TV would even notice that the arenas are empty. Yes, we understand the games would be meaningless and about as competitive as an all-star game. But it’s what the country needs. Baseball should do the same in empty stadiums. If it is safe to do so for everyone involved, it should happen.