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#pounditThursday, March 4, 2021

Stories by Grey Papke:

Terry Bradshaw recalls incredible story about using ‘Tom Brady’ alias

Terry Bradshaw

It turns out Terry Bradshaw knew something about Tom Brady before anybody else did — at least inadvertently.

On Wednesday, an old newspaper headline from 1983 went viral on social media. The headline described how Bradshaw, then the quarterback of the Pittsburgh Steelers, underwent elbow surgery at a Louisiana hospital. As a major star, Bradshaw checked into the hospital under an assumed name — which just happened to be Tom Brady.

Bradshaw confirmed that the story was real, and that he had forgotten about it completely until Wednesday’s reminder.

“Tom Brady! How lucky am I?” Bradshaw told Ed Bouchette of The Athletic. “There’s no question he and I are linked at the hip — same initials, same number. I had hair back then. I was a sex symbol. I had it all going then.

“Everything Tom Brady has today is because of me, do you know that?” Bradshaw joked. “Think about it. Every record he owns he had to go through me. Get used to that, Tom Brady.”

The irony is that Bradshaw hasn’t always ranked Brady atop his personal quarterback list. Maybe with this reminder, the current Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback will get a bit of a boost there.

Photo: Elizabeth Fraser/United States Army/Arlington National Cemetery via Wikimedia

Report: Raptors coaching staff may have played role in COVID-19 outbreak

Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors are set to return to action on Wednesday night for the first time since last Friday due to COVID-19 positives within the team.

The Raptors did not play Sunday’s scheduled game against the Chicago Bulls, and Wednesday’s game against the Detroit Pistons was pushed back a day after originally being slated for Tuesday. This was due to multiple player positives, and according to Shams Charania of The Athletic, one cause may have been the coaching staff’s inconsistent mask-wearing.

While the Raptors are not divulging which players have tested positive, Pascal Siakam, O.G. Anunoby, Fred VanVleet, Malachi Flynn, and Patrick McCaw are all unavailable Wednesday night due to health and safety protocols.

A coach playing a role in a virus outbreak also happened to one NFL team last season.

Mike Mayock makes clear how Raiders feel about Derek Carr

Derek Carr

Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr got a significant vote of confidence from his general manager on Wednesday.

Raiders GM Mike Mayock called Carr a “top” quarterback, and one who both he and coach Jon Gruden would “pound the table” for.

“I think Derek Carr has earned a lot of respect around this league from an awful lot of people,” Mayock said, via Jeremy Bergman of “I think Derek Carr had his best year yet, under Jon Gruden. I think he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the NFL and we couldn’t be happier with him. …

“If you’re asking me about Derek, I think Jon and I would both stand shoulder to shoulder and pound the table for Derek Carr.”

It probably wasn’t needed, but this serves as public confirmation to what reports have said. Some fairly prominent teams looked into trading for Carr, and were promptly told there would be no negotiation.

Carr is still only 29 and is on a contract the team likes, and he threw for a career-high 4,103 yards in 2020. He’s not going anywhere despite the rumors.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia via CC BY-SA 4.0

Yankees give update on Aaron Boone leave of absence timetable

Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees sound encouraged that manager Aaron Boone could make a quick return to the team after receiving a pacemaker.

According to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, Boone’s leave of absence is expected to be short-term, and he could even return to spring training by the end of the week.

Boone described the symptoms that led to his decision to take a leave of absence in the team’s earlier statement.

Thankfully, this seems like a fairly routine procedure and indicates a quick return time. Based on this, it sounds like Boone expects to be back and ready to manage well before Opening Day.

Raiders reportedly open to Trent Brown trade

Trent Brown

Former Pro Bowl offensive lineman Trent Brown could be on the market.

According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Las Vegas Raiders have had preliminary discussions about trading the offensive tackle, and may be able to find a suitable deal.

The 27-year-old Brown was a Pro Bowl selection in 2019 and is signed through 2022. He’s an elite talent when healthy, but that was the issue in 2020. He was sidelined by a lengthy stint on the COVID/Reserve list, and had some other issues that were pretty alarming at the time.

There’s certainly one quarterback we know of who would probably be a lot happier if his team went out and got a lineman of Brown’s caliber.

Bills propose huge change to NFL coach hiring process

Buffalo Bills

The NFL head coach hiring process might look a lot different in the future if the Buffalo Bills get their way.

According to Albert Breer of The MMQB, the Bills have submitted a rules proposal that would prevent teams from interviewing candidates for front office or coaching positions until after the conference championships are played. Teams would not be allowed to hire candidates for these positions until after the Super Bowl.

This would be a huge change. Presently, teams can interview candidates employed by other organizations during the playoffs, while unemployed candidates or college coaches can speak to teams without any restrictions.

There have been questions in the past over whether it’s distracting for coordinators employed by playoff teams to also go through the interview process during the playoffs. The Bills dealt with that to some degree this year, which may have impacted their thinking.

It’s also not clear whether this is something owners are eager to consider. If they do, though, the hiring process is going to radically change in the next few years.

NFL head coach predicts ‘massacre’ in upcoming player cuts

Roger Goodell

As the NFL zeroes in on a salary cap figure for 2021, the consequences could be stark for a lot of veteran players around the league.

The cap, which was $198.2 million in 2020, is expected to fall significantly in 2021 due to reduced league revenues. The 2021 number has not been finalized, but one NFL GM told Matt Verderame of Fansided that the number is expected to come in between $180 million and $183 million.

In other words, some NFL teams will expect to have to reduce payroll, and that is likely to lead to a lot of veterans getting cut. One head coach predicted a “massacre” starting next week ahead of free agency.

It’s clear that plenty of quality veterans will be available by March 17, when free agency opens. That might be good news for contenders, and it could also lead to some teams aggressively adding veteran talent to improve quickly. That’s why some within the league believe there could be a significant consequence while the salary cap is reduced.

Sandy Alderson wonders if Mets are better off without Trevor Bauer

Trevor Bauer

The New York Mets were spurned at the last minute by Trevor Bauer, who instead opted to join the Los Angeles Dodgers. Now that that’s over, the Mets are wondering if that will turn out to be a blessing in disguise.

Mets GM Sandy Alderson confessed the team may have been naive to think it could have managed Bauer’s social media activity and said he might be even happier with where the team’s roster ended up after Bauer rejected them.

“We thought we could manage it. And maybe that was naive. We’ll see,” Alderson said of Bauer’s social media activity, via Ronald Blum of the Associated Press. “But look, we’re very happy with the roster we have, and I’m not here to say, wow, we dodged a bullet. I’m here to say we made an effort. We thought he would help our team. We understood what the risks were associated with some of the social media stuff. We actually had discussions internally with group or groups in our organization to talk about that, including women.

“And so I was happy with where we ended up, and he made a choice. And now maybe I’m even happier with where we ended up, given the fact that we were able to add someone like Taijuan Walker and others.”

Bauer is known for his Twitter presence as much as he’s known for his pitching, sometimes for negative reasons. The reigning Cy Young winner recently got into it on social media with Noah Syndergaard. In a 2019 incident, Bauer was also accused of harassing a female college student on Twitter.

Bauer is an elite pitcher, and the Mets would have been better off with him in their rotation. The silver lining for them might be that things might be a bit less dramatic off the field without him.