FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Tom Brady walked off the field at the end of his 20th NFL season and said he plans to be back for another, when he will be 43 years old.
If not in New England, somewhere else.
The Patriots quarterback said after a season-ending 20-13 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Saturday night that he has no plans to retire, putting owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick on the clock to either re-sign him or watch the franchise’s greatest player suit up somewhere else.
“I would say it’s pretty unlikely, hopefully unlikely” that he would retire, Brady told reporters. “I love playing football, I love playing for this team. I’ve loved playing for this team for two decades and winning a lot of games. I don’t know what it looks like moving forward.”
Brady completed 20 of 37 passes for 209 yards with no touchdowns, throwing a game-clinching interception that was returned for a touchdown. That left him with with a lower quarterback rating than Ryan Tannehill, who threw for a total of 72 yards in his first career playoff appearance.
It was the earliest post-season exit for Brady and the Patriots in a decade.
“I think we’re all running out of time and chances, every year that goes by,” said Brady, who was without a touchdown pass for the second consecutive post-season game — and just the fourth time since 2001. “I don’t think I’m the only one in that category.”
A six-time Super Bowl champion, four-time Most Valuable Player of the NFL title game and three-time winner of the league MVP, Brady is not under contract for next season. Although he has said he wants to play until he is 45, he is coming off perhaps the worst (non-injury) season of his career.
“Who knows what the future holds? We’ll leave it at that,” Brady said. “I love the Patriots. It’s the greatest organization. Playing for Mr. Kraft all these years, and for coach Belichick, there’s nobody who’s had a better career than me, just being with them. So I’m very blessed.”
Brady threw for 4,057 yards and 24 touchdowns this season, with eight interceptions. But he completed fewer than 56% of his passes six times in the final eight games of the year, including a season-ending loss to a four-win Miami team that cost the Patriots a first-round bye and then the wild-card loss to the Titans.
Still, the love from New England fans has never waned.
A fan in the front row hung a banner reading, “Please Stay Tommy.” The rest of the crowd for what could be the last home game of his Patriots career showed its love by chanting his name a half-dozen times throughout the night.
But Brady’s last pass was intercepted and returned for a touchdown by Logan Ryan, a teammate during two championship seasons, sending the Titans to a divisional round matchup with the Baltimore Ravens. Brady walked off the field, his helmet off and his head hanging low, surrounded by photographers and security, before jogging the last few steps to the stairway that leads to the Patriots locker room.
Whether he will ever be back could be the most interesting drama of the off-season.
“I don’t want to get too much into the future and stuff,” he said. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen and I’m not going to predict it. No one needs to make choices at this point.”
Although the Patriots have at times attempted to groom Brady’s successor — including Jacoby Brissett, now with Indianapolis, and Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s with San Francisco — rookie Jarrett Stidham is the only other quarterback on the New England roster. He threw four passes this season.
Patriots coach Bill Belichick refused to say whether he thought Brady would be back. Defensive captain Devin McCourty said it’s difficult to predict what will happen in the off-season, when football decisions are strictly about business.
“It’s hard to imagine Tom not playing football,” McCourty said. “It’s hard to imagine him not playing here.”
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Schwarber hits grand slam, Red Sox hammer Astros to take ALCS lead – Sportsnet.ca
BOSTON — Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez walked off the mound with a six-run lead and a message for Carlos Correa and the rest of the Houston Astros:
Now it’s Boston’s time.
Tapping his wrist to mimic Correa’s Game 1 celebration, Rodriguez rode four more Boston homers — including Kyle Schwarber’s record-setting grand slam — to a 12-3 victory Monday night as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.
The taunt drew a rebuke from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who reminded his pitcher that they still need two more wins to advance to the World Series for the fifth time since 2004. Games 4 and 5 are at Fenway Park on Tuesday night and Wednesday.
“It’s not that I’m mad at him,” said Cora, who was celebrating his 46th birthday. “We don’t act that way. We just show up, we play, and we move on.”
One game after J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers each hit grand slams, Schwarber hit a second-inning 3-0 pitch 430 feet into the right field grandstand.
Boston is the first team ever with three slams in a postseason series.
“Electrifying. It’s unbelievable,” outfielder Alex Verdugo said. “You can have a big swing and get four runs in on just that one play — it’s huge.
“It’s one of the best plays in baseball, man. You give up a grand slam, it takes a lot out of you,” he added. “And just to kind of keep stepping on their neck and adding the pressure, it’s huge.”
Martinez and Devers each homered again, Christian Arroyo also hit one, and Kike Hernandez had two more hits for Boston, which opened 9-0 leads and coasted to victory in back-to-back games. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe ended it with a diving catch of Correa’s sinking line drive.
“They count as one (loss),” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We come back and win tomorrow and the series is even. You don’t like it tonight, but you come back in the morning.”
Rodriguez gave up five hits, including Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer, and struck out seven. He retired Correa to end the sixth and let the Astros shortstop know that his gesture in Game 1 was not appreciated.
Cora chastised Rodriguez before giving him a hug when he reached the dugout.
“He just told me `Don’t do that,’” said Rodriguez, who said he would apologize to Correa if he sees him. “It was something that was part of the moment. But (Cora) just told me, ‘We don’t do that here. Stay humble. Just go out there and play hard every time.”’
“Besides that,” Cora said, “he was outstanding.”
Correa said he “loved every single bit of it.”
“It’s just the way baseball should trend, moving forward,” he added. “You need to let the players have fun.”
Boston matched a franchise record with its seventh straight postseason win at home. The Red Sox had 11 hits in all, becoming the first team in major league history to reach double digits six straight times in a single postseason.
Hernandez, who has 18 hits during the playoffs and is batting .500 — both leading the majors — left the game after six innings.
Asked why, Cora said with a smile: “He has been running the bases a lot in the last few days, or weeks, or whatever.”
The Red Sox capitalized on two Astros errors and the struggles of Houston starter Jose Urquidy, who gave up six runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks, striking out one in 1 2/3 innings.
Rodriguez, who missed all of last season with COVID-related heart problems, retired the first six batters before running into the trouble in the third, when Tucker made it 9-3.
His outing enabled Cora to keep Nick Pivetta fresh for a Game 4 start.
To the delight of the Fenway fans, who targeted him with profane chants for his role in the Astros 2017 cheating scandal, Jose Altuve struggled at the plate and in the field.
A Gold Glove and AL MVP-winner, the three-time batting champion went 0 for 4 and let Arroyo’s chopper bounce off his chest for an error with the bases loaded in the second inning. One batter later, Schwarber hit Boston’s third grand slam in 11 innings.
The Red Sox, who only had three grand slams during the regular season, matched the 1998 Atlanta Braves as the only clubs to hit three in a single postseason. Boston has 20 homers this postseason, matching the 2004 Astros for the most through the first eight games of the playoffs, per MLB.com.
Altuve also waved at a throw from Martin Maldonado on Hunter Renfroe’s stolen base in the third; the error went to the catcher. The throw to third was also wild, but the Astros were saved another error when the ball missed the dugout and bounced off the padding back toward the field.
Astros: Baker said outfielder Jake Meyers, who injured his left shoulder crashing into the wall in Game 4 of the Division Series, is doing better and could start as soon as Tuesday.
The teams play Game 4 on Tuesday night. The Red Sox are expected to rely on Pivetta, who was 9-8 with a 4.53 ERA in the regular season. Houston will call on RHP Zack Greinke, with RHP Cristian Javier ready to follow the veteran. Greinke has been limited over the past two months due to a neck issue and a positive COVID-19 test.
Canada's women's team drops third straight game with 8-0 loss to Drumheller Dragons – The Globe and Mail
The Drumheller Dragons held Canada’s women’s hockey team off the scoresheet Monday, blanking the national squad 8-0 in a tune-up game.
Adam Raesler scored a hat trick for the Alberta Junior Hockey League side, while Luke Fennig added a pair of goals. Ty Daneault, Grayson Dietrich and Ty Whitford all scored singles.
Canada’s Kristen Campbell stopped 19-of-22 shots in two periods of work and Emerance Maschmeyer made six saves in relief.
Eric Ward saved all five shots he faced in 29 minutes of play for the Dragons and Garrett Fuller finished out the game, making six stops.
Neither side capitalized with the man advantage, with Team Canada going 0 for 3 on the power play and Drumheller going 0 for 2.
Canada has now lost three games in a row to junior-A hockey teams as it prepares for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.
Olympics-Small minority of U.S. Olympians oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandate, say officials
The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Monday its decision to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for those competing at next year’s Beijing Olympics has been met with some resistance.
In a bid to create a safe environment and restore some level of consistency in planning, the USOPC announced last month that Team USA athletes hoping to compete in the Beijing Olympics will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
“The response is as you would expect: Within our general population, there are some people who are extremely happy that we introduced this policy,” Jonathan Finnoff, the USOPC’s chief medical officer, said during the virtual Team USA media summit.
“And there are others that are upset and would like to not have any mandate regarding vaccinations.”
According to Finnoff, it is only a “very small minority” of Team USA athletes who oppose the mandate and the USOPC is having one-on-one conversations with each one to discuss their feelings and explain why the decision was made.
Last month’s announcement by the USOPC came days before the International Olympic Committee said the Beijing Olympics would have tight COVID-19 measures in place to ensure the safety of all participants during the Feb. 4-20 event.
Finnoff said the “more stringent” Beijing measures, which he added unlike the USOPC’s rules will not grant religious exemption, would supersede the U.S. policy.
Any athlete who is granted a medical exemption will have to go through a 21-day quarantine in Beijing before they can begin training ahead of their event.
“These are challenging times but the vaccine policy that we’ve put in place and that China has put in place is going to make the Games as safe as possible,” said Finnoff.
USOPC Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland said the COVID-19 mandate is all about the safety and health of the team.
“The presence of this virus makes the challenge greater for all of us in a Games environment but we are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate illness and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Hirshland.
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)
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