Fast Friday 5: Feeling helpless regarding the coronavirus

Andy Hart
March 13, 2020 - 5:58 am

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If you’re like me, you’re feeling helpless.

Even if you may not want to admit it.

It’s a kind of helplessness that we all hate. And try to avoid at almost all cost.

But sometimes the real world closes in around us and there is that feeling that there is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

I remember feeling it when I was a 23-year-old intern in the Patriots public relations department on Sept. 11, 2001, beginning a career and an adult life in a world that suddenly made no sense.

I remember the feeling overwhelming my exhausted body when I was stopped less than a mile from finishing my first Boston Marathon back in 2013, corralled and concerned to a level I’d never felt before when word spread that there had been an explosion near the finish line. My wife and two young children were supposed to meet me at the finish line.

To some degree, I feel it again now.

In just a couple months the coronavirus has gone from some faraway flu I’d never heard of to something that’s seemingly controlling my life and the lives of so many on the this planet. It decides what we do. Where we go. What forms of entertainment we can take part in.

It controls what we are thinking about.

Our children are being told to stay home from school and sports.

Our jobs feel insecure, at best.

Our economic future is alarmingly unstable.

Where will it go?

When will this end?

Clearly, no one knows right now.

That’s leaving us all, with a terrible feeling of relative helplessness.

Like it or not, we’re all in this together.


Come on NFL, smarten up and postpone free agency!

The NBA really got the ball rolling -- thanks in part to Rudy Gobert’s now-admitted immature, “careless” ignorance -- on cancellations in the world of sports.

March Madness is just the most notable of all the NCAA sports that are wiped out.

MLB, the NHL and even, after a while, the fledgling XFL shut things down. The PGA finally relented.

But the NFL, despite canceling its upcoming owners meetings in Florida and many teams pulling coaches/scouts from the road, seemingly plans to proceed with the opening of the new league year and free agency in less than a week on March 18.

It’s a terrible idea on so many levels.

Some have referenced the thought that in the sports vacuum created by all the pro and college cancellations the NFL offseason, free agency and the draft, will dominate the headlines and the sports world chatter.

That’s true, but that doesn’t mean it will be a good thing or that it even should.

First, should the league really have free agents traveling and making visits to team headquarters, some of which have already basically shut down operations on some level? Should teams be left to individual decisions on how to handle such situations in a competitive world?

The answer is a clear no.

Secondarily, is it really a good look for the NFL, its teams and its players to be living the high life of free agency while the rest of the country is borderline shutdown, worrying more about toilet paper than Tom Brady?

Does the ultra-rich Brady want his new contract flaunted in the headlines right beside coronavirus outbreak numbers, reports of death and chaos?

One would hope not.

The NFL going on with free agency business as usual is a bad idea, a bad decision and a horrific look.

Clearly it would not be ideal for the league, its teams and its players to delay the opening of the 2020 league year and free agency.

But we no longer live in an ideal world. Not right now anyway.

Here’s guessing (hoping?) that the NFL will come to its senses before Brady Watch 2020 takes off next Wednesday afternoon.


Brady circus or no circus?

Not long ago we wrote about the circus surrounding Tom Brady’s free agency this offseason. The endless reports, whispers and opinions, many claiming to be well-informed and oh so many seemingly emanating from Brady’s so-called camp.

To be fair, there have also been a few reports along the way popping up with a New England organizational feel to them.

One thing this ongoing negotiation between Brady and the Bill Belichick-led Patriots hasn’t been is quiet or behind closed doors, really dating back to when it all got rolling last summer.

In the past, Brady negotiated deals with owner Robert Kraft on the down low and consistently told the media that he never talked about his contract.

Now, conversations between Brady and Belichick become media fodder within hours of the call ending.

But not everyone agrees that this has been some sort of Brady-fueled media circus. In a recent appearance on the Dale & Keefe Show on WEEI, NBC’s Peter King “marveled” at the fact that despite his nearly four decades covering the NFL he doesn’t have a good feel for how Brady’s situation will play out.

“I have marveled at, at least in my sphere, I’ve marveled at how well the Brady side and the Patriots side and teams that seem logical like the Tennessee Titans, I’ve marveled at how they have kept this out of the public sphere,” Kind said.

“I’ll have my suspicions of how many teams were interested, because right now I’m in the dark like you guys are. I hate to say that cause I’ve covered the league for a long time. I do think Tom Brady has done a good job in talking to (agent) Don Yee and talking to these teams, presumably, and saying ‘Hey, look, I don’t want to negotiate in public. I don’t want this to become a circus.’ And I think they have done a very good job in that regard.”

King has more sources and covered more NFL stories than most reporters can ever dream of. But in this case, respectfully, he seems to be a on the outside looking in on this story and a bit off-kilter with his assessment.

For months there has been an ongoing, high-priced game of chicken going on within the borders of Patriot Nation as the Belichick and Brady foundation of the dynasty comes to a possible end. Thanks to reporting from ESPN, NBC Sports Boston and elsewhere we’ve all been taken along for the bumpy ride in a very un-Brady-like, un-Patriots-like negotiation process that’s been very much a three-ring (six-ring?) circus.


Sad time for seniors

Maybe we put too much importance on sports in this world.

Oh hell, no maybe about it, guilty as charged.

But make no mistake, sports are an extremely important part of people’s lives.

It’s not just the escape from reality of watching a Bruins game.

It’s not just the unified office bonding that occurs with everyone on the planet doing a March Madness Bracket for the fun – and maybe finances – of it.

It’s not just the professionals making millions or the scholarship college athletes getting a free education and maybe hoping to one day be pros themselves.

Some men, women and children truly play the game for the love of the game. Or they did before the coronavirus pandemic took the games away.

That’s especially true to seniors, both high school and college, who were embarking on their final spring season this March. The baseball, softball, lacrosse and other athletes who’ve worked, trained and practiced all their lives for this couple months of competition, now the relative kings of their fields at high schools and college campuses across the land.

Elite scholarship athletes will get their year of eligibility back if they are in college or go on to college if they are finishing out high school.

But what about the high school kid who’s never going to play again?

Or the college senior at an Ivy League school or D-III program that already has a job lined up in the real world waiting for them.

Their time in their athletic prime is over.

Decisions are being made for life-and-death reasons, we all know that.

But it doesn’t make it any less difficult for these seniors everywhere to realize their athletic careers are over.

Time to enter the real world, unfortunately months earlier than they expected or ever dreamed of.


Watch ya gonna do?

Those of us who love sports and also so happen to make a living watching and talking about them are in a weird spot. So, too, are the millions of fans who turn to sports each night and weekend for entertainment and escapism.

Heck, coronavirus had already taken over the talk of the sports world over the last week even before it shut it all down.

How weird is it going to be for the next few weeks and maybe months without sports?

What’s going to be airing on ESPN, NESN, NBC Sports Boston and other outlets who count on games throughout the sports world to fill out their broadcast schedule? How often can we watch another national talking head break down Tom Brady’s future for hours on end?

Watch a movie?

Binge a series or two on Netflix?

What happens when all the kids home from school and all the parents who can’t work jump on Wi-Fi with all their various devices and bog down broadband service? What then?

Read a book?

Take a walk? (A short one, around just our own yard for safety purposes?)

Watch another hour of TV coverage of a coronavirus-controlled world?

So many questions, so few answers.

Back to that helpless feeling again.

Related: Peter King on D&K: Tampa Bay likely to try to sign Teddy Bridgewater over Tom Brady