🏈 Thank you for being a friend
The GIST: New England Patriots fans, you might want to skip this one. Beloved former Pats tight end Rob “Gronk” Gronkowski has joined his quarterback (QB) bestie Tom Brady as the newest member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Look out, Florida!
What?! I thought he retired?: Yeah, same. Gronk was drafted by the Patriots in 2010 and spent his career in New England until he retired last March. At just 29 years old, his retirement was a pretty big shock to the sports world.
- That said, Gronk suffered numerous injuries during his career, which took a toll on his mental health. After retiring, Gronk became an NFL analyst for Fox Sports and signed a contract with WWE, where he recently won the WWE 24/7 Championship.
So why is he back?: That’s the power of Brady, baby. The legendary QB created his own shockwaves when he signed with the Buccaneers in March, after 20 seasons and six Super Bowl wins with New England.
- The Bucs have solid wide receivers, but Brady’s always best when he has a tight end he can trust. Gronk and Brady won three Super Bowls together, and if Gronk can get back into playing shape by the time the season starts in September *knock on wood*, we think this dream duo can make it four.
🏈 Shipping out of Boston
The GIST: No one is enjoying themselves less than New England Patriots fans right now. Self-isolation, no St. Paddy’s parties, plus the loss of quarterback (QB) Tom Brady...it’s not a good time for Pats Nation.
Quick, give me stats on Tom: Brady was a Patriot for 20 years (aka his entire football career), where he won six Super Bowls (the most of any player in NFL history). Although his contract expired at the end of the 2019–20 season, there was still a small chance that he would re-sign for one more year.
- Until Tuesday, when, in a single Instagram post, the Uggs guy broke the hearts of millions, saying that his “football journey will take place elsewhere.” The end of an era.
So where’s he going now?: It’s not yet official, but he’s finalizing a contract with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a rumored $30M per year. Yeah, we were kind of confused by that, too. Seems a bit random, since the Bucs haven’t been playoff contenders since 2007, have the worst winning percentage in NFL history and Brady, at 42, likely has only a few years in him to win one last Super Bowl.
- But the Bucs have a pretty solid offensive team with wide receivers Mike Evans and Chris Godwin, and head coach Bruce Arians has a longstanding reputation as a great QB coach. Tampa is also hosting the Super Bowl next season, so it could mean home field advantage for another ring...or it could mean bad luck, as a Super Bowl host has never even made it to the Super Bowl.
This is a pretty big deal: It’s a v. big deal. The struggling Patriots drafted Brady 199th in the sixth round of the 2000 Draft. And yet, somehow, this underdog became the greatest QB of all time and, with some help from head coach Bill Belichick, created a dynasty. All the best, Tommy — remember to lather up with SPF 60.
Any other NFL news?: A few other QB signings this week. Philip Rivers joined the Indianapolis Colts for a one-year, $25 million contract (wow!), Drew Brees signed a two-year extension with the New Orleans Saints, and the Jacksonville Jaguars traded 2018 Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles to the Chicago Bears for
basically nothing a fourth-round draft pick.
🏈 Guide to Football
To start, it’s important to know that football is really only played in North America where there are two main leagues: the National Football League (NFL) played in the U.S. and the Canadian Football League (CFL) played in Canada. Talk about a sport called “football” anywhere else in the world and they’ll for sure assume you’re talking about (or ‘footy’, as it’s affectionately nicknamed).
Let’s start by giving you #thegist of the NFL, the most popular football league in the world where the best players aspire to compete.
NFL football is played on a 100-yard field with goal posts (called uprights because the posts face into the sky rather than the ground like soccer) at each end. There are 11 players from each team on the field at once. Through passing or running the football, the point of the game is to score and to have the most points at the end of four quarters. Each team has four attempts (called ) to advance the ball 10 yards before the ball is turned over to the other team. TBH, we know this can be confusing, but stay with us! It’s well worth all the hype.
How’s it organized?
There are 32 teams in the NFL, which is divided into two conferences (NFC and AFC) which are further split up into four divisions (North, South, East and West). There are 16 regular season games leading to the playoffs which culminates with the Super Bowl. From the wildly overpriced commercials, to the star-studded halftime show, to eating until you explode – the Super Bowl is an event like no other.
The best of the best
The best team from the 2019-20 season was the Kansas City Cheifs who beat the San Francisco 49ers 31–20 marking KC's first Super Bowl in 50 years. Kansas City was led by their exceptional quarterback (QB), Patrick Mahomes (who is a big ketchup guy).
Determining who’s the best player in the NFL is tough because there are so many different positions that require different skills. But it’s pretty synonymous that Tom Brady, who is now a Tampa Bay Buccaneer is, quite literally, the greatest QB of all time with six Super Bowl rings. Other players to know in the league right now are running back (RB) Christian McCaffrey (Carolina Panthers), and RB Dalvin Cook (Minnesota Vikings). You can check out the top 100 list in 2019, as voted on by the players,
Think football is a man’s sport? Think again! There are actually three full-contact 11-on-11 leagues in the U.S., the biggest being the (WFA). Formed in 2009, the WFA has continued to expand and now includes 60 teams (!!!) across three divisions, each crowning its own champion at the end of every season.
And for those who dig the game but not the tackling, there’s always flag football — a similar game where players have to stop running when their flag is pulled off their belt rather than when they’re tackled to the ground. 10/10 would recommend.
Ramp up your trivia game
- Only six teams have won a playoff game without scoring a touchdown (aka only).
- Brett Favre (of Green Bay Packers fame) and Tom Brady are the only 40-year-olds to ever win a playoff game, and Brady is the only QB above 40 to win a Super Bowl.
- Just 18 teams played in the NFL’s inaugural season way back in 1922. We’ve come so far!
Okay, we know the CFL is seen as the NFL’s less exciting cousin BUT if you really want to impress your friends with your sports knowledge, let’s get into #thegist of it. Here’s what makes the CFL different from the NFL.
- A CFL field is 110 yards long vs. the 100 yard NFL field. It’s also a little bit wider.
- The CFL has 12 players on the field at one time vs. 11 players in the NFL, partially because the field is bigger.
- In the CFL, teams only have three attempts () to advance the ball 10 yards, vs. four attempts in the NFL. This often results in more turnovers (when one team is forced to give up the ball to the other team) and keeps things moving at a brisk pace.
How’s it organized?
There are nine teams in the CFL, which is divided into two divisions: East and West. There are 18 regular season games and then six teams make the postseason for the chance to win the . The season runs from June until the end of November, meaning the playoffs are generally played in sub-zero/snowy weather. Just check out the in Hamilton, Ont.!
The best of the best
The reigning Grey Cup champions are the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 33-12, thus ending the longest Grey Cup drought in the league (29 years!)
The first Grey Cup was won in 1909 (!!!) by the University of Toronto Varsity Blues, because back then it was awarded only to amateur teams. Today, the Grey Cup is property of the professional CFL, while the Vanier Cup is award to top amateur University teams across the country.
Did you know…
- There used to be some American teams in the CFL. The first team from the U.S., the Sacramento Gold Miners, was admitted to the league in 1993. American teams only played in the CFL for three seasons during the glory days of the early 90s.
- The Winnipeg Blue Bombers have made the most Grey Cup appearances (25), while the Toronto Argonauts have won the most championships (17).
Don't get The GIST’s free twice-weekly newsletter yet? Let's make it inbox official.
🏈 A little bit extra
The GIST: On that note, we do have a few non-COVID-19 related sports updates, because we just can’t go cold turkey.
NFL: On Saturday night, the NFL Players Association narrowly voted to accept the NFL’s proposed collective bargaining agreement (CBA). This was a surprise, as many big name players initially criticized the proposal. The new CBA, which was ratified with 51% of the vote, means we’ll see the 16-game regular season increase to 17 games, a 12-team postseason increase to a 14-team postseason and, most interestingly, no suspensions for positive marijuana drug tests. Radical.
- The NFL’s free agency begins at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, which means any player with an expiring contract will be free to sign with a new team. Three big-time quarterbacks will be on the market: New England Patriot Tom Brady, Dallas Cowboy Dak Prescott and Los Angeles Charger Philip Rivers. Something to look forward to...unless you’re a Pats or Cowboys fan.
🏈 Who run the world?
From agents to coaches, 2019 and 2020 proved that women indisputably have a place on the bench and behind the scenes in sports.
- Let’s start with Baylor Lady Bears college head coach (and fashionista) Kim Mulkey. In February 2020, she became the fastest D1 basketball coach — as you know by now, male or female — to reach 600 wins. And get this, she did it in just 700 games.
- Now let’s switch gears and talk football. At the beginning of February 2020, the Washington who must not be named’s hired Jennifer King as an assistant coach, which made her the first full-time Black female coach in the NFL. ’Bout time, no?
- Sticking with the NFL, despite her San Francisco 49ers squad losing the Super Bowl to the Kansas City Chiefs, offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers became the first woman and openly gay coach in Super Bowl history.
- Baseball also got in on the fun. In January 2020, Alyssa Nakken was hired by the San Francisco Giants as the first female full-time coach in MLB history. Hey batter, batter, batter.
- ICYMI the NHL is expanding to Seattle in October and we’re already big fans of the franchise. In September 2019, they hired former Team USA captain, gold medalist and Hockey Hall of Famer Cami Granato as one of the team’s full-time scouts, making her the first female pro-scout in NHL history.