The headlines are hard to miss and easy to smirk at.
The Rocky Mountain News contributed "Patriots are Brady's bunch, for now." The Providence Journal-Bulletin offered "Brady Comes in for Bunch of Praise." The Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette told readers "Brady has got a bunch more responsibility." And the Boston Herald said simply "Pats Brady's bunch."
So it was with some degree of trepidation that Kamon Simpson of The Gazette of Colorado Springs, Colo., began a story about New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady with the words of the famed TV sitcom: "Here's the story of a man named Brady."
Simpson is willing to "admit that a play off New England quarterback Tom Brady's name was a little obvious and, well, far- fetched."
But then, the writer started noticing things that makes Tom as much a member of the Brady Bunch as Greg and Marcia. In Simpson's words:
"Tom Brady plays for the Patriots, who were once coached by Pete Carroll, and Carol, as everyone knows, was mom on the Brady Bunch. Coincidence? We think not.
"The Patriots are division rivals with the New York Jets, once quarterbacked by Joe Namath, who appeared on episode No. 97.
"Tom Brady was a high school football star in California, also the home state of the television Bradys.
"Tom Brady is playing because the usual starting quarterback, Drew Bledsoe, is recovering from an injury. And speaking of injuries, remember when Greg broke his rib in football practice, after Mike and Carol disagreed over whether he should be allowed to try out for his high school team?
"Tom Brady's high school was Serra High. In `The Treasure of Sierra Avenue,' episode No. 29, Bobby found $1,100 while playing football, and his decision to split it only with his brothers split the family, alienating his sisters. We should point out that as a sixth- round pick in the 2000 draft, chosen 199th overall, Brady received the minimum NFL salary, which is only slightly more than $1,100 (in 1970 dollars, anyway, adjusted for inflation). And in this episode, Victor Kilian played Mr. Stoner, and Victor Kiam once owned the Patriots. Spooky, eh?
"Peter almost quit his football team after being razzed by his teammates after they learned he was in a choir. But Deacon Jones of the Los Angeles Rams showed up at his practice and saved the day. Tom Brady almost quit football at Michigan because he was sick of sitting behind Brian Griese. As far as we know, however, it was Wolverines coach Lloyd Carr, and not Deacon Jones, who talked him into staying.
"Tom Brady also played baseball in high school, and was so good that he was drafted in 1995 by the Montreal Expos. Greg was ready to drop out of school to pursue a baseball career before being talked out of it by Don Drysdale in episode No. 27."
Set your VCR
If sports fans can't find any repeats of The Brady Bunch tonight, they might look for one of these shows:
According to Jim: New York Giants coach Jim Fassel guarantees a playoff spot for his struggling team, saying: "This is a poker game. I'm shoving my chips to the middle of the table. I'm raising the ante. I am driving the train." (Repeat)
Once and Again: For a second straight year, Navy football players prepare for the possibility that they may need a victory over Army to avoid a winless season.
48 Hours: Michael Jordan emerges from whirlpool two days later, says he's ready for the Wizards' next game.
Crossing Over: Reigning NBA Most Valuable Player Allen Iverson takes Jordan to the hoop.
Spin City: Mo Vaughn's agent denies his client demanded a trade from the Anaheim Angels.
Texas Justice: Larry Dierker, who took a team that hadn't been to the playoffs for a decade to four division titles in five years, wonders how he got fired as Houston Astros manager.
Will and Grace: Will Clark explains to Mark Grace how much easier on the body retirement is.
That '70s Show: Mike Morgan fires a mean glitter ball past Tim Raines Sr. and Rickey Henderson.
Roles of a lifetime
Phil Sheridan of The Philadelphia Inquirer offers some suggested programming for ESPN:
Dude! The Lenny Dykstra Story, starring Gilbert Gottfried as the Dude and Danny Aiello as Jim Fregosi.
Star Wars: Obi Wan Does Lovetron, featuring Ewan MacGregor and Darryl Dawkins.
Who's the Boss?, a wacky sitcom about a laid-back dad (Larry Brown) who is forced to adopt a brash neighborhood punk (Iverson). Mayhem ensues.
From Greg Cote in the Miami Herald:
"The long-awaited NBC special, Greatest Moments in XFL History, airs tonight from 8 'til 8:02 p.m."
Compiled from wire reports and Web sites.