JOY ON TAMPA WATERS

Tom Brady just wrapped up a joyous SuperBowl victory boat parade down the interlocking waterways of Tampa’s core. The celebration continues. Time was when wheeled Duck Boats carried Tom and fellow champions through the frozen gray heart of old Boston. The sun must be agreeing with Tom as he pilots his own boat, surrounded by family, Rob Gronkowski on somebody’s aft deck cavorting joyously and drunkenly, naked to the waist. Tampa and Tampa Bay are “new” in ways old New England isn’t. The Bay has won the hockey’s Stanley Cup and baseball’s American League Pennant.

Now that St. Petersburg has come into its own, I hope this sprawl of water and real estate and core cities can congeal into one cooperative urban base. People are fleeing the expense, weather and politics to the far north.

I guess I’m glad, though an unreconstructed Cod, to be here for this. And I’m glad Tom Brady actually grasped my hand once with that legendary right hand of his when I greeted him and he said, “Hi, Greg.” He didn’t and doesn’t know me, but I trotted behind him up and down the stairs of the Mass State House the day he, Drew Bledsoe and Troy Brown took a victory lap among legislative offices getting their “attaboys” for their combined win that began the Brady years. He was just a lanky unknown then. He belongs to sports history now.

And all this in plague times. (There were masks in evidence over in Tampa. I think it’s a city ordinance for the time being. But I saw no masks, lots of bare skin and plenty of booze onboard those boats.)

Through all this, there is that abiding reality about all our lives and our moments in the sun being brief — but it seems nothing is more evanescent than the career of an athlete. I just mentioned Drew Bledsoe and Troy Brown. Where are they now? Injuries, bodily limitations under the best of circumstances and the cold business realities of professional athletics necessarily mean that pro careers will, in most cases, be very brief. Small wonder they demand high salaries while the glory last and while they earn millions of dollars for their franchise overlords.

In this respect, Tom Brady has been blessed with an unusual long and brilliant career. It’s no accident. He works hard. He is not, from all accounts, the best at any one aspect of what he does — doesn’t throw the hardest, can’t really scramble, etc..But he is great in the combination of all he does. And he seems to be a master strategist, mentally tough, very competitive. I guess I’d like to take a leaf out of his golden playbook.

Enjoy the interval, Tom. I know you’re dying to get back to work.

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