NFL: New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans

Tom Brady

SUNDAY notes and quotes as Tom Brady looks to go 12-2 lifetime against the Steelers:

• Rob Gronkowski, who had his first 100-yard game of the season last week in Miami, has owned Pittsburgh in his career to the tune of 39 catches for 664 yards and eight touchdowns, in just six games. Last year, he caught nine for 168, including three straight for 67 on the winning drive.

• When the Celtics drafted Robert Williams, they knew they were getting a physical talent, albeit one with some personal problems. You wonder if they knew they were getting a Bill Russell type who makes it very difficult to get to the rim. Notice we said a Bill Russell TYPE. There was only ONE Bill Russell.

• My Hall of Fame ballot: Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Edgar Martinez, Curt Schilling, Mike Mussina, Larry Walker, Jeff Kent, Omar Vizquel. If Manny Ramirez stays on, he gets my vote next year.

• The Bruins are donating the proceeds of today’s 50/50 raffle to the family of fallen Worcester, Mass., firefighter Christopher Roy.

• They called off a three-way NBA trade Friday because of a mixup over which Brooks, MarShon or Dillon, was going to Memphis.

• Marlins manager Don Mattingly, who was the bench coach when Nathan Eovaldi was in LA, on the righty: “If you were going to bet on anybody, you bet on him. ... He just worked and worked and worked... Those guys don’t just come along.”

• Yankees manager Aaron Boone on the Red Sox: “They had such a great season. 108 wins speaks for itself.... there’s no denying they were the best team in baseball this year....we just know at our best we’re capable of beating anyone.”

• The ever-witty Bill Belichick: “Christmas comes at an inconvenient time, right in the middle of the football season.”

Yonder Alonso was traded from the Indians to the White Sox Friday. Yonder Alonso is Manny Machado‘s brother-in-law. A connection?

• From the Red Sox: “A’s OF Stephen Piscotty has been selected as the recipient of the 2018 Tony Conigliaro Award, given annually since 1990 to a Major Leaguer who has overcome adversity through the attributes of spirit, determination, and courage that were trademarks of Tony C.” Piscotty’s mom lost her battle with ALS during the season.

Drew Bledsoe, to Bleacher Report, on why Tom Brady keeps playing: “He’s in a lot of ways still the same guy I met on the practice squad backing us up. He still has that same passion and enjoyment for the game. The thing that keeps him going is really the same thing he had when he got there. The thing that’s most impressive is he’s been able to maintain that enjoyment of the game and that enjoyment of preparing to play.”

• The Red Sox and Yankees will play Saturday night and Sunday afternoon in London June 29 and 30. The Saturday game comes on at 1 p.m. around here, and the Sunday game at 10 a.m.

• Indians skipper Terry Francona on how long he wants to continue managing: “What else would I do? I’m not qualified to do anything else.”

• I never voted for Harold Baines when he was on the ballot and, while I disagree with the selection, let’s not dump all over Harold Baines, OK? He didn’t campaign for this scarlet letter and was a pretty darn good baseball player.

• Old pal Chris Smith of MassLive on Sox spending: “(Red Sox GM Dave) Dombrowski called the penalty for exceeding the second surcharge (third tax threshold) ‘pretty stiff.’ What is it? The Red Sox’ top selection in the 2019 June Draft will be moved back 10 slots. The club also will pay a competitive balance tax of more than $10.4 million.”

• The ever-classy Drew Brees had 174 game balls designed to hand out to those people who were special in helping his career as he broke the record for all-time passing yardage. “Take care of those who take care of me,” he said.

• Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia, to WEEI, on his possible comeback: “If anybody can do this, I can. That’s the way I’m sure our team is looking at it and that’s the way I’m looking at it, too.”

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle on Bruce Maxwell, the catcher who took a knee during the national anthem last season: “Controversial ex-A’s catcher Bruce Maxwell can’t find work, fires agent; ‘The kneeling thing might keep him from getting another job,’ one exec says.

• SportsLine projection on today’s game in Pittsburgh: Pats 28-26 and “Projected Statistics: For the Patriots, Tom Brady throws for 310 yards and two TDs with Rob Gronkowski attaining 74 receiving yards and Julian Edelman adding 72 more. For the Steelers, Ben Roethlisberger passes for 350 yards, two TDs and one INT, with Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster each finishing with 96 yards receiving.”

• Yankees radio voice Suzyn Waldman on Marlins president Derek Jeter after a recent charity event: “He’s still magic . ... someone bought 4 tickets to a Marlins Game IN Miami ... no plane fare, no hotel ... to go to a game and be with Derek! They paid $40,000!!!”

Tim Neverett is gone from the Red Sox radio booth and there’s talk of a talk show format during games next year. That can’t be true.

• From old pal Gary Myers of the New York Daily News: “Worth repeating: Wow. The Giants and Jets won on same weekend for first time since final game of ‘16 season on 1/1/17. And just like back then, Giants beat Redskins and Jets beat Bills. NY/NY had gone 30 consecutive NFL weeks (including byes) without winning at same time.”

• The Bruins weren’t thrilled to have to fly into Ottawa after last Saturday night’s game and play at 5 in the afternoon. The Sabres played in Washington on Saturday night and visit the Bruins, who are in Montreal on Monday, today at 5.

• On to Pittsburgh: Belichick was asked about the Steelers losing three straight and the Pats losing at Miami, in terms of moving on. “It’s every week,” he said. “That’s the way it is every week, turn the page and move on to the next team.” Whether you win or lose? “That’s right. Yup, that’s exactly right.”

• Veteran scribe Larry Stone recently on the crazy wheeling and dealing of the Mariners: “From when Jerry Dipoto took over as #Mariners GM on Sept. 28, 2015, there are now two players left on the 40-man roster, Felix Hernandez and Kyle Seager. But check back tomorrow.”

Adam Ottavino, the Brooklyn native who would fit perfectly into the Boston bullpen, pulled a Pedro Martinez and said “I remember I had an argument with a coach in Triple-A about Babe Ruth‘s effectiveness in today’s game, and this was, like, 10 years ago. I said, ‘Look, Babe Ruth, with that swing, swinging that bat — I got him hitting .140 with eight homers.’” He was like, “Are you nuts? Babe Ruth would hit .370 with 60 homers,” and I’m like, “I would strike Babe Ruth out every time. Like, I’m not trying to disrespect him, you know, rest in peace, you know, shout out to Babe Ruth. But, it was a different game. I mean, the guy ate hot dogs and drank beer and did whatever he did. It was just a different game.”

David Cone on Ottavino: “Babe Ruth could probably strike out Ottavino too. Just saying.”

• Unlike some of the illegal stuff, college football players are indeed allowed to receive gifts at bowl games – with a limit. SI ranked the best and worst of this year’s gifts. The best? The list included a $425 Amazon gift card (Alamo Bowl) and a personal Fathead (Quick Lane) of the player. The worst? A “Dopp Kit,” translation, toiletries, from the Cure Bowl.

• Brady on not being surprised Ben Roethlisberger will shake off that rib injury and play today: “He’s as tough as they come. He’s always been available to that team. I remember there was one game he didn’t start because of his foot and then the guy got hurt, Ben came in, as a backup, and he threw for 300 or something like that – some ridiculous stat. He’s just tough – been a great quarterback in the league for a long time, knows the game. He’s just a great competitor and he’s always got those guys going.

• From Pierre LeBrun of TSN in Canada: “Some exciting news: The @NHLCanes plan on playing Brass Bonanza as their goal song Dec. 23 vs. Bruins when they wear their Hartford Whalers third jerseys. Giddy-up!”

Mookie Betts continues to add to his legacy off the field. WEEI’s Rob Bradford reported the new MVP gave out free bikes and helmets to YMCA kids in Nashville. “You always remember your first bike,” Betts told The Tennessean. “It’s amazing to know you’re making somebody happy.”

Warren Moon, who played until he was 44, thinks Brady is starting to slip. “Age is something none of us can avoid. Things are going to start to slow down,” Moon told Bleacher Report. “How fast? We really don’t know. You can start to see some decline in Tom.” Man, that’s going out on a limb; We had Brady going until he’s 60.

• From @SoxNotes: “In 2018, Nathan Eovaldi allowed 0 home runs to his final 194 right-handed hitters faced, including the postseason. From September 1 through the end of the World Series, left-handed hitters were 4-for-53 (.075) with one extra-base hit against Eovaldi.”

• Did that KC secondary scare any Patriots fans the other night? Philip Rivers picked them apart when the world knew the Chargers were throwing.

Tanner Roark was traded for Tanner Rainey this week — @slangsonsports telling us: First MLB-level Tanner-for-Tanner trade in baseball history. 5 players with the first name of Tanner have played in the majors in MLB history, and 2 of them were just traded for each other.” This is the kind of vital information you can’t get in most places.

• Brady, on whether wife Gisele hammers at him about ending this physical nonsense: “She doesn’t talk to me about it at all. She’s so supportive. She wants me to be happy and do something I love to do. I think any wife wants you to be happy and healthy. And, you know, football is a physical sport. She’s been watching me do it for a long time and she knows how much I love it.”

• Celts radio voice Sean Grande on the team’s NBA ranks during the eight-game winning streak: (During 6-game win streak): “OFFENSE 1st; DEFENSE 2nd; NET RATING 1st; SCORING 1st; FIELD GOAL% 2ndt; 3-POINT % 1st; REBOUNDING 1st; ASSISTS 2nd; ASSIST/TO 2nd; EFFECTIVE FG% 1st; TRUE SHOOTING 1st”

• Do the Bruins have to deal Torey Krug for some offense up front? Yep.

• From Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports on the Hall: “Harold Baines is in the Hall of Fame. Marvin Miller isn’t. And that says everything you need to know about the farcical special committees that chose the former and continue to exclude the latter.”

Matthew Slater on the Pats being eager to play another game after what happened last Sunday: “Were ready to go play football, compete on the road, there’s no better environment that I can think of than going to Pittsburgh, play a good team with a great tradition so were excited about our opportunity. You’re definitely chomping at the bit to get back out there and get the bad taste out of your mouth. I think we needed a good week of preparation and we got that, but ultimately it’s about going out there and playing well, and we’re excited to go play, have another opportunity and hopefully we can get that done.”

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @mscotshay.