NFL: New England Patriots at Tennessee Titans

Tom Brady

HAVING RECENTLY purchased tickets to see an 82-year-old Kris Kristofferson in concert, I thought it might be a good time to have some Sunday morning coming down — with some notes and quotes.

• Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said earlier this week he — like most others in the NFL at this time of the year — is dealing with injuries. Asked Friday if that should limit him against the Vikings today, he said, “No, I feel like I’m ready to go. I’m excited for the game. It’s a big game for us, big game for them. But, I feel good. I think everyone’s dealing with different things, but I’m able to go out there and play and hopefully play well.”

• By the way, Brady has gone back to his old helmet, shedding the new, and allegedly safer, model. “Yeah, I’ve gone back-and-forth quite a bit,” he told Westwood One radio host Jim Gray. “You know, the old one has just treated me so well over the years, so hopefully I can get grandfathered in. That’s what I’m going to try to do this offseason, see if I can keep playing with it. I love the way it fits. I love the way it feels. It’s been a great helmet for me. So I’ve just been thinking about it and think that’s what works the best for me as we continue on this season.”

• Saturday night at TD Garden, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was set to start back-to-back games for the first time since Oct. 13 and 17. The results were not known as this was being written, but safe to say Rask is back. He stole Thursday night’s game, which is what NHL goalies have to do to be successful (especially a guy making $7 million, eh?).

• Free agent reliever Craig Kimbrel is reportedly seeking a record (for closers) six-year deal. Plenty of mileage on that arm, so it might be tough to get.

• Yankees GM Brian Cashman, refusing comment on interest in Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano because of potential tampering, said Friday, “I’ve explored a lot of things that are available on his team, obviously, because he’s living to fight another day, and we’ll continue to engage them as well as every other team that’s not named Boston.”

• Former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick can’t get a job in the NFL. But it took the Redskins a couple of days to hire Reuben Foster, who had just been arrested for domestic assault for the second time (he’s 24). Tweeted A.J. Perez of USA Today: The NFL has reached out to the Tampa police this week to inquire about Reuben Foster’s arrest — and the Redskins still have not, @TampaPDspokesperson tells @usatodaysports.” Foster can’t practice or play until he gets off the commissioner’s exempt list.

• And then there’s Kareem Hunt, who was released by the Chiefs after an abuse video surfaced. KC did the right thing, which by the way could help clear a Patriots path back to the Super Bowl. Tweeted John Clayton of ESPN radio: “As much as it hurts the Chiefs Super Bowl chances I applaud how they handled the Kareem Hunt release. No tolerance.”

• The Red Sox and Yankees will play two games in London next summer – and get this from @britbaseball: “Are you seriously going to charge nearly $200 for a bleacher seat @MLB? so much for you trying to encourage a new audience in Europe! It will be cheaper to fly to the states to watch these two teams play.”

• The ACC and ESPN announced an ACC Network will debut with an Aug. 29, 2019 football game. Georgia Tech will visit (national champion?) Clemson. The network will be a 24/7 thing.

Dwight Howard, now with the Washington Wizards and a player everyone seems to love to hate, is expected to miss 2-3 months after undergoing glute surgery. Sounds painful.

• Celtics team leader Kyrie Irving to the returning Gordon Hayward: “We had practice yesterday and I told him, ‘Look for your shot more. Get aggressive and get yourself going because you are a great talent in this league and I don’t want you to ever forget that.’”

• BC beat BU 4-1 Friday night in Hockey East play. BU SID Brian Kelley pointed out, “This is the first time since Nov. 30, 2007, that BU and BC are meeting with both teams sporting sub-.500 records. Before that, the most recent occurrence was Feb. 27, 1988.

• Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski said he came out of his return in good shape — then wound up back on the limited list the next day, and was removed on Friday. “Good, I feel good,” he said Wednesday. “You know the football wear and tear and all that, you’re never going to leave a game going ‘ahaha.’ If you play a full game and you’re playing hard then (you’ll be sore), but other than that I feel good.”

• The Red Sox haven’t given up on Tyler Thornburg, which could turn out well for the champions. They dealt Travis Shaw to get him, so why not be patient?

• The Bruins’ Brad Marchand, asked if his No. 63 could join Rick Middleton and 10 others in the rafters some day, said, “Yeah...I don’t know. It looks pretty good on the ice, though.” After the game, which followed the ceremony, Marchand tweeted, “Great night watchin Rick Middleton get his number retired! Unreal person unreal player congratulations on the great career!”

• Meanwhile injured B’s Zdeno Chara (33) and Patrice Bergeron (37) will be up there down the road.

• Patriots coach Bill Belichick on whether he, the coach/teacher, learns things when he talks to Brady: “Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, Tom’s got great understanding and vision for the game. He sees a lot of things. I’ve learned a lot from him. I mean, I’ve learned a lot from, I’d say, probably every player I’ve coached. What they see, how they learn, what they do. There are things that I’ve been able to take from, that I’ve learned from what players do and try to teach it to another player and help him get better. Yeah, I’m learning every day.”

• Wednesday night, Patrick Marleau, now with Toronto, became the 25th NHL player to score against all 31 franchises.

• The Red Sox and Astros were reportedly the leaders in the Nathan Eovaldi chase.

Klay Thompson on the champion NBA Warriors’ visit (and subsequent loss) to Toronto on Thursday: “They’re going to be a great test for us. Who knows? It might be a preview of June. They got something really special up there in Canada right now.” Kevin Durant scored 51 but Kawhi Leonard had 37 and the Raptors improved to 19-4.

• Former Flyers GM Ron Hextall was caught off guard by his firing, telling the Philadelphia Inquirer he was talking trades at the time of the firing and adding, “I was shocked. I was hoping to finish my career here.” That, of course, could be the case. Hextall was GM of the AHL Manchester Monarchs in the Los Angeles Kings organization from 2006-13.

• Brady reached out to a victim of the Paradise, Calif., fire who managed to save only his Brady jersey as his house burned down. “You lose a game and you feel like, ‘Man, the whole world’s caving in,’ but it’s really — keeping things in perspective, you realize there’s a lot of people dealing with a lot of things that are very tough,” Brady said Friday. “And just to be able to provide support, I think for us as athletes, is pretty cool and important in what we do.”

• My Linked-In page reminded me to congratulate Dan Duquette on his seventh anniversary of his Baltimore Orioles GM job. Oops.

• Patriots safety Devin McCourty, asked if Minnesota’s Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are the league’s top receiver duo, said, “They’re definitely up there. You can go down the list. There’s some pretty good duos out there, but you look at these guys, I mean, it’s like 90-something and 80-something catches, it’s one guy over 1,000 yards, the other guy’s on his way to 1,000 yards. And I think the hardest thing as you go down, Thielen, Diggs, (Kyle) Rudolph — these guys are catching like almost 70 percent of the balls thrown to them. So, very dynamic and explosive group, but I think the biggest thing is when the ball’s thrown, they catch the ball. So, that’s third-down conversions, red area targets — like all of those times it shows up. We’ve got to do a good job not only covering them, but we’ve got to get our hands on the ball or they’ll probably catch it.”

• Nugget from column pal Dave Laurila of Fangraphs: “Wade Boggs went 28 for 90 (.311) in the postseason with the Red Sox. He went 14 for 64 (.219) in the postseason with the Yankees.”

• Patriots players will be sporting non-conformist cleats in today’s game, part of the NFL’s “My cause, my cleats” campaign. As if they shouldn’t be allowed to wear what they want when they want.

• More Laurila: “Forty pitchers have thrown 4,000-or-more innings. Dennis Martinez threw 3,999-and-two-thirds innings.”

• Bruins GM Don Sweeney, appearing with Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman this week, said the Bruins are looking for help “up front,” adding, “We don’t know what our team really looks like. If there’s good news, it’s that some other guys have had to drive the bus…given us an idea of what they can do. (Head coach) Bruce Cassidy and (assistant) Kevin Dean were part of our development plan, so they knew what we had.”

• Rest easy, Red Sox fans – they saved the Citgo sign. Mayor Marty Walsh vetoed landmark status, but said, “We are pleased to share that we have reached a long-term resolution that will preserve the Citgo sign and allow for it to remain in place in Kenmore Square for years to come.” Phew!!!

• My oldest son, Josh, often complains to me that the Bruins and Celtics are on at the same time, while other nights are without a TV game. Earlier this week, our buddy Ty Anderson tweeted: “Following (last) Saturday’s Bruins-Leafs game, the next eight Bruins and Celtics games conflict with one another. This is so stupid. They’ve already conflicted six times this year, and will again on Thursday night. Given lengthy off-days teams share, this is so, so stupid.”

• Earlier this week, the Bruins jumped from No. 7 to 5 in the latest Yahoo NHL power rankings, with the words, “It’s kind of amazing what this team is doing with all these guys on the shelf. Even David Backes looks good. Both goalies look like they can’t be beaten all of a sudden. Portends good things, that’s for sure.”

• Column pal Sean Deveney of The Sporting News, reacting to Celtics GM Danny Ainge saying Kendrick Perkins isn’t a good fit “at this time” because the team already has too few minutes to accommodate players, tweets, “The problem, however, is not that they are lacking guys who need time. Problem is they have too many who need time. Perkins would come understanding he would never see the court. That’s not the worst thing.”

Edgar Martinez will again get my Baseball Hall of Fame vote — it’s his last try — and here’s a stat from baseball statistician Ryan Spaeder: “Edgar Martinez would have to return to baseball and go 0-for-660 without reaching base safely for his career on-base percentage to dip below Tony Gwynn‘s lifetime .388 on-base percentage.”

• Finally, the Brewers didn’t tender a contract to Jonathan Schoop, who struggled after they acquired him from the Orioles. This guy hit .293 with 32 homers and 105 RBIs in 2017. If the Red Sox had any way of knowing what Dustin Pedroia‘s status for ’19 really is …

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