Patriots

Morning sports update: Why the NFL scheduled Tom Brady’s return to Gillette Stadium for Week 4

"It would be different if Tom’s standing on the 50-yard line watching a tribute video in November in six inches of snow."

Tom Brady Bill Belichick
Tom Brady and Bill Belichick after winning the AFC Championship in 2018. AP Photo/David J. Phillip, File

On Sunday, the Celtics lost to the Knicks, 96-92. Boston will face the Wizards in the play-in tournament on Tuesday at 9 p.m.

The Angels rallied to defeat the Red Sox 6-5 after a Shohei Ohtani two-run home run in the 9th inning.

And the Revolution stayed atop the MLS Eastern Conference with a 1-0 win over Columbus thanks to Adam Buksa’s 86th minute winner in front of home fans at Gillette Stadium:

Also on Sunday, Barcelona came out charging in the Women’s Champions League final. After scoring four first half goals, they cruised to victory over Chelsea, 4-0.

How the NFL chose Week 4 for Buccaneers-Patriots: The NFL schedule for the 2021 season was released last week, including Tom Brady’s much anticipated return to Gillette Stadium to play the Patriots for the first time since signing with the Buccaneers in 2020.

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The Brady vs. Belichick matchup is set for Sunday night in primetime on Oct. 3, Week 4 of the regular season.

In his recent Football Morning in America column, NFL reporter Peter King offered some background on how the league decided on that particular date.

“I get why they did it,” wrote King. “Brady turns 44 in August, and he’s coming off off-season knee surgery, and at some point, isn’t it logical to think that a man of a certain football age won’t last a full 17 games? Plus, it’s logical to wonder if the Patriots’ 2020 struggles continue into this year. Playing it early is a hedge against the Patriots’ record, and a hedge against an old quarterback’s health.”

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NFL Senior Vice President Howard Katz admitted to King that “that game was not always on the Sunday night schedule,” given how much each network wanted what will likely be a ratings goldmine.

Eventually, Sunday Night Football on NBC emerged as the setting. As for why Week 4 was chosen, NFL Vice President of Broadcast Planning Mike North listed the league’s rational.

According to North, the timing “is less about whether these teams are fighting for division races, playoff implications, less likely to have an injury, less likely to have weather. The story can be about Brady’s return. It would be different if Tom’s standing on the 50-yard line watching a tribute video in November in six inches of snow. Or, the later in the season we go, the more likely somebody’s injured. Getting in early, having that story told, made some sense.”

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Trivia: What 43-year-old quarterback was a Patriots backup during the 2006 season?

(Answer at the bottom)

Hint: He was originally drafted (first overall) by the Buccaneers.

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Daily highlight: Liverpool, needing a winner in stoppage time on Sunday against West Brom to keep the team’s Champions League qualification hopes alive, found it in the form of a beautifully headed goal from goalkeeper Alisson.

Liverpool won, 2-1. Afterward, an emotional Alisson discussed the moment:

Trivia answer: Vinny Testaverde

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