NFL: New England Patriots at New York Jets

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, shown before last Monday’s game against the Jets, has been all over the news this week as he leads New England into today’s game against Cleveland.

With all that’s going on, it’s easy to forget the Patriots are undefeated and still the defending champions.

AMID the seemingly daily drama hardly befitting an undefeated defending champion, Tom Brady‘s jersey rushed to the forefront of Patriots news as the week went on.

His jersey?

Yes — one guy tried to steal it and Brady tried to give it away to another guy.

How’s THAT for drama?

First, some clown did some department store shoplifting and walked out of the Pats Hall of Fame wearing a Brady jersey under his clothes. Now, as we wonder how it was accessible in the first place, we’re glad they got it back.

The Rhode Island dude also tried to steal other stuff — merchandise worth a reported $10,000. He admitted the theft to the Attleboro Sun Chronicle.

This, of course, is the second time someone stole a Brady jersey – the other one right out of the locker room after a game. Fortunately, both have been recovered.

Then why is Brady so eager to give it away?

Mohamed Sanu, just acquired from the Falcons and apparently set to make his debut when the Pats look to (and likely succeed) go to 8-0 with a win over the Browns, wore No. 12 in Atlanta.

“He DM’d me when I first got traded, said welcome and everything like that, how he was excited,” Sanu said Friday. “And then, he said if I wanted 12, I can get it. I was like, ‘Nah, you got that. I’ll change to 14.’”

The thought apparently hadn’t even crossed Sanu’s mind. Sure, he might have said to himself, “Yeah, I’ll get traded to New England and ask for Brady’s number. Perhaps I could offer him something in trade. Heck, it’s done all the time, right? That’s the ticket.”

“No,” Sanu said with a smile. “I’ll just go out there and do my job and let him be great.”

Ah, a reference to FOOTBALL.

Isn’t it enough that we have to wonder about Brady’s future every time he drops back to pass and what a Netflix cameo is all about? Now we have to worry about his jersey? It’s just too much.

And the Patriots should be too much for the so-far-disappointing Browns, who come in 2-4 after receiving all kinds of hype after the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr.

OBJ knows what his team is up against Sunday – and he’s a bit suspicious.

“I think he’s doing DNA cloning,” he said. “Because he’s the GOAT they took the GOAT cloning and they did it on him. So I think there’s Brady the family man and then the GOAT clone that is the Brady out on the field.”

Jarvis Landry, who says the Browns will win this game, added, “For as long as I’ve been watching football, I knew about Tom Brady for sure. He’s almost double my age, but his work ethic is incredible. I follow him, I see his success, his work, his approach about everything.

“‘Tom vs. Time’ (a multi-part series produced on Facebook Watch) is one of my favorite documentaries.”

The future Blooms

For the second time in this young century, the Red Sox have hired a young guy from Yale to run their baseball operation. He is Chaim Bloom and, like Andrew Friedman before him, he goes from money-challenged Tampa Bay Rays to a big-money team.

But Friedman is with the Dodgers who, unlike the Red Sox, have not put restraints on the guy running the show. Ever since owner John Henry‘s declaration that payroll needs to be cut to get under the luxury tax, the Sox have morphed into a quasi-small-market team.

Money will be spent on the building of the organization because that won’t affect the tax. But the major league roster? “Here’s the keys, Chaim, now go trade Mookie Betts?”

Know this, though, this is a quality young baseball guy. And the only person actually interviewed for the job hardly inherits an expansion team.

Messy week

Not a great look for baseball amid the should-be excitement of the World Series this week.

First it was the Astros and their dreadful reaction to the assistant general manager’s comments to a female reporter concerning accused abuser Roberto Osuna. They stood by their guy, denied the story, then about-faced and fired their guy, and still haven’t properly apologized for the incident, which is now viewed as further evidence of a dark front office story.

And then there’s Rob Drake. The umpire, known for his right-wing comments on Twitter (yes, free speech), tweeted, “I will be buying an AR-15 tomorrow, because if you impeach MY PRESIDENT this way, YOU WILL HAVE ANOTHER CIVAL WAR!!! #MAGA2020”

It was the latest of his tweets that have all been erased from his account. He apologized for this one (not for the spelling of the word civil), but does MLB allow him to continue? Remember, free speech.

“I especially want to apologize to every person who has been affected by gun violence in our country,” Drake wrote in the apology. “I also acknowledge and apologize for the controversy this has brought to Major League Baseball, my fellow umpires and my family.”

Free speech? Yes. But this guy should be out on his butt. “Cival War?”

Looking around

Justin Verlander is indeed headed for the Hall of Fame. But in our “Hard to Believe” department, he is also the first pitcher EVER to lose his first five World Series decisions. He is 239-134 lifetime in the regular season and playoffs, 0-5 in the Series. …

We told you here the other day that it’s clear Jayson Tatum is looking to shoot more. Well, thanks to stat guru and column pal Dick Lipe for telling us the first two games of the season (the Celtics were in New York Saturday night) saw Tatum fire up 20-plus shots in two straight games for the first time in his career. By the way, it was also the first time he’d ever had three-plus offensive boards in two straight games. …

How important was it for the Astros to win Game 3 of the World Series? In this history of the Series, 24 teams went down 0-3 and all 24 lost the Series — 21 of them in a sweep. However, 17 of the last 18, including the last 11, teams that won the first two games on the road went on to win it all. …

The first 10,000 fans entering the Barclays Center in Brooklyn on Friday night were given Kyrie Irving jerseys. Then, the new Net put on a show late to dispose of the Knicks. …

Old pal Jim Donaldson, retired from the Providence Journal, points out, “Let’s see now . . . #BakerMayfield has thrown a league-high 11 interceptions . . . ??@Patriots?? stellar defense has intercepted a league-high 18 passes, 9 more than any other #NFL team . . . Is it any wonder #Patriots are favored by 12.5 pts. Sunday over over-hyped, 2-4 ??@Browns???.” …

Kemba Walker is clearly the leader of these new-look Celtics. As he was taking over the latter stages of Friday night’s win in the home opener, Jaylen Brown, who had a huge game, fired up a 3-pointer early in the shot clock that missed. He reportedly apologized to Walker after the game. “He ain’t gotta apologize,” said Walker, whose energy is clearly infectious. “He took a great shot. He just missed. I didn’t want him to apologize. I wanted to keep my teammate confident.” …

If you felt nostalgic watching Anibal Sanchez pitch for the Nationals Friday night, consider this: the Red Sox traded him FOURTEEN years ago. With Epstein on his gorilla-shut sabbatical, the Sox traded Sanchez and fellow prospects Hanley Ramirez, Jesus Delgado and Harvey Garcia to the Marlins in exchange for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell and Guillermo Moto. How did that work out for the Red Sox, who were FORCED to take Lowell’s contract or there would be no deal? …

Vice president Mike Pence came down on the NBA for its dealings with China – the league is clearly not the only business doing business with China – but NBA types have shot back. But it’s kind of strange – while the NBA folks scream they have the right to free speech on the matter, Charles Barkley told Pence to “shut the hell up.” “I don’t understand why these holier-than-thou politicians, if they’re so worried about China, why don’t they stop all transactions with China?” Barkley said. “I think it’s unfair for them to do all their business in China, and just because this thing happened, try to make the NBA and our players look bad. All American companies do business in China. Period.” …

Gymnast Simone Biles, who may well be the greatest athlete in the world, spiced up her first pitch at the World Series by doing an Ozzie Smith flip on the mount. She then got the ball autographed by Jake Marisnick. He should have had another ball to be signed by HER. …

There’s no Kawhi Leonard anymore, but Celtics coach Brad Stevens knows how hard it is to beat the defending NBA champs. “I laughed at the whole idea that Toronto, even though they won it, is still under-appreciated and under-ranked because there’s no way any coach would do that,” Stevens said after Friday night’s game. “So, it’s coming from somewhere, but it’s not us. We’re scared to death of them.” …

Money left for Tuesday’s trade deadline? @patscap tweets, “My new Patriots salary cap space number is $10,268. This accounts for Sanu, (Shaq) Mason, (Jordan) Richards, and (Josh) Gordon. Number presumes Justin Bethel and Aaron Monteiro signed for the minimum.” …

People love to hate Joe Buck. My only questions is why? The guy is the consummate pro, always prepared for the football or baseball game he’s covering. …

You get the feeling something had to happen leading to the Pats suddenly cutting Gordon. The troubled receiver, whose New England career lasted 17 games, expects to be healthy and released and looking for more work in a week or two. ..

Strength in experience: I watched the Celtics opener on ESPN, where 86-year-old Hubie Brown was dealing his usual quality commentary. Flipping the channel, you got Doc Emrick, only 73, doing his thing on hockey for NBC Sports. …

Landry on the Browns at Foxborough: “We’re gonna win, it’s that simple.” Like THAT won’t come back to bite him. …

Watching all the future pros on display in the Ohio State-Wisconsin game Saturday, one had to be patient waiting for battle between 1-6 UMass and 1-6 UConn. …

Brady on a positive first week with Sanu: “I think it’s his willingness to embrace this opportunity. He brings a lot of juice, so it’s good to have. It’s good to see someone that’s competitive. If you watch him play, he plays with an attitude. He’s got a little chip on his shoulder, too, so I think we can relate to each other. And he can relate to a guy like Julian (Edelman), because he was often overlooked in his career, and I think he plays that way.” …

Joe Maddon returns to Anaheim with a managerial resume that’s had him in the postseason in eight of his 14 years running the Rays and Cubs. …

Nick Underhill of The Athletic sees tight end and offensive line as the Patriots’ needs heading into Tuesday. He wrote: “New England has already made two (deals), trading for wide receiver Mohamed Sanu and unloading pass rusher Michael Bennett, who was suspended last week for one game after getting into an argument with a member of the coaching staff. There are other needs on offense that could be addressed to bolster what could end up being another Super Bowl run.” …

Giannis Antetokounmpo, the best player in the NBA, says the success – or lack of it – the Bucks have this season will have a lot to do with whether he re-signs or hits free agency after this season, at least according to a Harvard instructor who interviewed him. However, the Greek Freak says, “I’ve never used those words in my life.” He added, “As I’ve said, there’s going to be a lot of stories that are going to come out. Everybody knows how sensitive this timing is and they’re going to come out with a bunch of stories and all that.” …

With second-year QB Mayfield coming to Gillette on Sunday, NESN’s Zack Cox tells us, “Since 2001, second-year QBs are 8-38 against the Patriots, including playoffs. The only winners: Ryan Tannehill (2013); Colin Kaepernick (2012); Mark Sanchez (2010 and 2010 playoffs); Joe Flacco (2009 playoffs); Chad Henne (2009); Patrick Ramsey (2003); Drew Brees (2002).” …

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy after Tuukka Rask was a winner in his 500th NHL game Tuesday night: “The guys on the ice, they want to win for him every night, but I think they realized tonight was a special night and I thought we played pretty well in front of him. I’m sure they’re very happy for Tuukka.”

Finally, Edelman on Gordon: “I wish him the best. I hope all his rehab and everything goes well. I told him, ‘If you need anything I am here’. Now, I am focusing on the Cleveland Browns.” …

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.