Each day during the sports pause stemming from the coronavirus pandemic, NESN.com will publish a diary full of random thoughts, opinions, takeaways and other cool tidbits we’ve stumbled across in the absence of actual games. Because why not? We’re all in this together.
Goodbye forever, March 2020.
This month was the worst. Especially in New England. We lost all of our sports, our quarterback and were trapped inside our houses with predominantly grey skies. Not to mention, the consistent sense of impending doom presented upon all of us by the coronavirus outbreak.
Patriots’ beat writer Jeff Howe put it perfectly Monday night, saying, “March has been the longest decade of my life.”
March has been the longest decade of my life.
— Jeff Howe (@jeffphowe) March 29, 2020
And while March is finally over, this pandemic is not yet. But we’re one step closer to getting our lives back to normal. There’s some stuff to look forward to in April, but for now, let’s recap the biggest news that came out on the last day of the weirdest month in sports history.
— The NFL season hasn’t been impacted yet, aside from having to make changes to the Draft, but owners voted Tuesday to extend the postseason from 12 to 14 games. Additionally, the league hopes to play its full 16-game schedule despite the pandemic.
— It looks like TB12 will remain TB12 when he gets to Tampa Bay.
A big question around Tom Brady leaving the New England Patriots for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was whether or not he’d get to wear his signature No. 12 jersey.
Upon his announcement, the number belonged to Pro Bowl receiver Chris Godwin.
The number meant a lot to Godwin too, and he said he’d worn it his entire football career. Still, out of respect, he gave it up for the G.O.A.T. out of respect. The team announced Tuesday that Brady will get to wear No. 12, while Godwin starts the next chapter of his career with No. 14 on his back.
The answer you've been waiting for…
Tom Brady: 1⃣2⃣
Chris Godwin: 1⃣4⃣
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) March 31, 2020
— The NFL may be set to move on as scheduled as of now, but that doesn’t help us in the mean time. What does help fill the void? Professional golfer Phil Mickelson teasing a live-streamed round between he and Tiger Woods.
According to reports by golf journalist Robert Lusetich, there’s talks of that match becoming a foursome. Their partners? Brady and Peyton Manning are two names flying around.
Sign us up for that. It’s tough to say who Patriots quarterback Jarrett Stidham would be rooting for. He’s backed up Brady since New England drafted him, but growing up, said he looked up to Manning.
— The coronavirus didn’t stand a chance against Marcus Smart.
The Boston Celtics guard claims to have felt no symptoms, and assured he felt well enough to play in a game while infected. He continues to be one of the most outspoken athletes regarding the virus, and went on CNN to discuss his diagnosis to the masses. Since getting cleared from COVID-19 on Sunday, he’s taken another step to help combat the virus.
Smart reportedly plans to donate his blood plasma to National COVID-19 Convalescent Plasma Project for research on the blood of those who’ve recovered from the coronavirus, per The Athletic’s Shams Charania.
— In regards to its own return, the NBA is watching how the Chinese Basketball Association handles its return to play. One of those ideas that’s been suggested is finishing the season in one centralized location. As of Tuesday, Las Vegas has emerged as a potential site.
Former Celtic Paul Pierce has another idea, however, hilariously recommending the league return to play at Area 51.
— Sticking with the NBA, the league is doing its part to keep fans entertained during the league’s suspension. Reports came out Tuesday about a players-only “NBA 2K20” tournament to be broadcasted on ESPN.
The tournament will be headlined with league stars like Kevin Durant, Trae Young, Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker, to name a few. Check out the brackets here.
Fans, however, can still get in on their own “NBA 2K” action with the NBA 2K League’s Three for All Showdown. The tournament will see fan-organized teams, WNBA players, NBA G League players, NFL players, top female “2K” players and social media influencers face off on the virtual court for a purse of $25 thousand.
— Video games and esports have really risen to the top of sports content as of late, with leagues following NASCARs lead to create entertainment. Racing legend Dale Earnhardt Jr. has been spending his money on driving simulations for years, to his late father’s dismay. If only Dale Earnhardt Sr. could see what’s happening now.
— Former Patriot Rob Gronkowski is hoping on the virtual NASCAR bandwagon as well, and will serve as the grand marshal for the iRacing event Sunday. He and supermodel girlfriend Camille Kostek donated 20,000 medical-grade KN95 masks to hospitals in Boston and New Jersey.
— NFL players like Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and receiver Tyreek Hill are trying to get involved playing “Call of Duty” and “Fortnite” with professional gamers, but there’s at least one person in the sports world not playing into all the hype.
We’re referring to former Boston Celtic and NBA analyst Kendrick Perkins, but you might hate video games too if your kids racked up $16,000 in “Fortnite” charges on your credit card. Yikes.
— As far as actual racing goes, the slew of canceled events has led to some scheduling issues, and now, rumors that NASCAR and IndyCar will combine some of its events.
— Major League Baseball had some scheduling news break Tuesday as well, as commissioner Rob Manfred reportedly suspended the minor league season and announced to clubs that its players will be receiving a $400 weekly stipend through at least May.
— Speaking of pay, NBA players may not see a significant amount of their remaining salaries for this year should regular-season games eventually be canceled. Per ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the NBA and NBPA are discussing a plan to withold up to 25 percent of what players were still owed for this season.
That’s not ideal, but fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that.
— One athlete who isn’t hopeful he’ll get back on the ice this season is Boston Bruins’ goalie Tuukka Rask. He also joked about the first-place B’s winning the Stanley Cup by default, and addressed comments me made about potentially retiring after the 2021 season.
Video Of The Day
It’s funny because it didn’t happen to us, but this story of Kendrick Perkins discovering his kids had spent more money on “Fortnite” skins than they would have for a nice, used sedan is so outrageous. How does one discipline their children for that?
— ESPN (@espn) March 31, 2020
Stat Of The Day
On this day 25 years ago, Michael Jordan got his first professional baseball break, with the Chicago White Sox assigning the Chicago Bulls’ legend to their Double-A club. In 127 games, he would hit .202 with three home runs and 51 RBI.
On this date in 1994 – The Chicago White Sox assign Michael Jordan to the Birmingham Barons in the Double-A Southern League.
Jordan would go on to play 127 games for the Barons, batting .202 with 3 home runs and 51 RBI. pic.twitter.com/9l57Okie7F
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 31, 2020
Tweet Of The Day
During a normal NBA season, the Tweet of the Day would nine times out of ten be something from Weird Celtics Twitter community, especially with news breaking that Marcus Smart would be donating blood plasma to help with COVID-19.
But the Athletic’s Jared Weiss made an excellent point. This is the story of Weird Celtics’ Twitter’s dreams.
Not even Weird Celtics Twitter on its craziest day could come up with a storyline of Marcus Smarf’s blood being the cure that saves the world from a pandemic.
— Jared Weiss (@JaredWeissNBA) April 1, 2020