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Tom Brady to Return to Tampa Bay Buccaneers: “Unfinished Business”

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FILE - Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady talks with the media after training on day 5 of summer training camp July 30, 2021. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

TAMPA BAY, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – April Fools Day is right around the corner, but this isn’t a joke, folks. Tom Brady is returning for his 23rd season in the NFL and his third in a Tampa Bay Buccaneers uniform. Brady broke the news on Sunday evening.

“These past two months I’ve realized my place is still on the field and not in the stands,” he said via his social media accounts. “That time will come. But it’s not now. I love my teammates, and I love my supportive family. They make it all possible. I’m coming back for my 23rd season in Tampa. Unfinished business LFG.”

Brady announced 39 days ago that he was hanging up his cleats for the final time after finishing the 2021-2022 season with a career high 5,316 passing yards, 40 touchdowns, and just six interceptions. The Buccaneers fell short 30-27 to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Los Angeles Rams in the NFC Divisional Round.

So what does this mean for Tampa Bay? Fans can breathe a sigh of relief as the hunt for the successor to arguably the greatest player of all-time will be postponed for at least one more year.

If Brady proved one thing last season, it’s that despite being 44 years old, he can definitely still sling the rock. In fact, if it was up to Tommy Terrific he would probably play until he’s at least 50!

And he’ll have one of the best wide receiver duos at his disposable to do so with perennial Pro-Bowler Mike Evans and standout Chris Godwin. While a long term deal with Godwin has yet to be reached, the Buccaneers did place the franchise tag on him, meaning he will be a Buccaneer through the 2022 season. Godwin has a career high 98 receptions and over 1,000 yards receiving.

Will the Gronky and Tommy show return for another season? Gronkowski has said his decision to return to Tampa or the NFL at all returns on his best friend’s decision, and now that decision has been made.

The 2022-2023 season is definitely shaping up to be exciting with the return of Brady, plus one contest slated against the reigning Super Bowl Champion Rams, and AFC Champion Bengals, as well as the likes of Kansas City and Baltimore.

In the famous words of Brady himself, “Lets Go!”

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Todd Grasley is a sports reporter for Florida National News. | sports@floridanationalnews.com

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Perpetual Man in Motion, McAleer Helps Raise Gradient’s Mojo

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Before the Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach, Stevan McAleer received instructions from Gradient Racing owner Andris Laivins:

Just finish the race.

It had been a rough start to the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Gradient’s No. 66 Acura NSX GT3. A mechanical problem at the Rolex 24 At Daytona resulted in a 19th-place finish in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class. A crash in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Cadillac left the team in 14th place in GTD standings.

The just-finish instruction led McAleer to ask a specific question of Laivins:

“What happens if we’re P4 fighting for P3?’” McAleer said. “He said, ‘I just want to finish this race.’”

Oddly enough, that scenario – fourth fighting for third – is precisely where McAleer found himself in the final minutes at Long Beach.

“I came on the radio and said, ‘How badly do you guys want this podium?’” McAleer said. “I think I scared them a little bit. To be fair, I didn’t really have anything for Mike Skeen at the end, but it was a great weekend.”

Funny how a basic finish can revitalize things. McAleer, moved to a full-time role after the team parted with Katherine Legge in early April, helped Gradient Racing improve to 12th in the GTD championship points standings heading into this weekend’s Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

“You could see the relief on the team’s faces,” McAleer said. “Fourth place to me is maybe not great – I’m always after some of the biggest trophies – but it was certainly a win for a team whose last couple of races had been unlucky.”

Now he and co-driver Sheena Monk press forward to WeatherTech Raceway, where McAleer has memories of a victory in 2016 with Freedom Autosport in what is now the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. WeatherTech Raceway’s offseason repaving project is the first topic of conversation leading into the weekend.

“It will be interesting to see how that suits the Acura,” McAleer said. “Looking at the lap times from last year, the car definitely had some pace. It didn’t look like it was the fastest, but it was in a window that I can work with.”

McAleer’s newfound duties with Gradient Racing are added to his already crowded schedule, joining his previous commitment to co-drive the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport with Trent Hindman in the Michelin Pilot Challenge. McAleer will race in both series this weekend, along with his extensive coaching obligations that include co-ownership of a Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by Michelin team with four cars entered.

In his world, a busy schedule is beneficial.

“The constant being in a race car regardless of what it is has always helped me adapt to something that I’m maybe not necessarily familiar with,” McAleer said. “People might have concerns with that, like maybe you’re not going to be as efficient as you could be. I disagree. Each car has a limit, and it’s my goal to find it. I thoroughly enjoy it.”

McAleer, who spent last weekend coaching drivers in another series at Sebring International Raceway, has multiple student clients in different series. Add his involvement with go-kart racing to his coaching and driving, and he’s eternally busy.

“That’s all deliberate for me,” McAleer said. “I’ve seen drivers’ careers disappear overnight for whatever reason – they get hurt, they move on to something else, or the team retires. There are so many variables in this sport just because of the sheer amount of funding it takes to run programs. … If I have 10 programs going, I know without a doubt that 10 programs are not going to disappear overnight.”

So, he aims for the weekend, with a crowded calendar, a never-give-up attitude, and few complaints.

“I would argue that there is nobody in the paddock as busy as I am from a driving standpoint, but that’s my own doing,” McAleer said. “When I complain that I’m tired, my wife tells me quite quickly that I did it to myself.”

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GAME 3: Paolo Banchero, Orlando Magic Crushed Cleveland Cavaliers 121-83

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ORLANDO — Paolo Banchero and Orlando Magic are celebrating their first playoff win at home in 13 years after crushing the Cleveland Cavaliers 121-83 on Thursday night at the Kia Center.

The win cuts the Magic’s deficit 2-1 in the series as they look towards evening things up on Saturday at home.

NBA Playoffs Game 3: Orlando Magic Paolo Banchero. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

Paolo Banchero | 31 points and 14 rebounds

On how much of a role the home fans played tonight…

“They played a huge role, you know. I don’t think people realize how much of a difference it makes, you know, when you make a play, or you score and the whole arena erupts every single time. It just gives you a huge energy boost and it makes you forget that you’re tired or whatever
it may be. Definitely give a lot of credit to the Magic faithful.”

On what point tonight he realized that he had it going…
“I would say when I made my first basket. I just threw it up and it went in. Because I missed the first like five or six and I knew that they were all pretty easy shots and that I was just too excited almost, too much energy. I shot a lot. Too strong left and right. So, I would say when the first one went in, and it wasn’t even supposed to go in. I was really trying to get a foul but that’s when I was like ‘ok. I’ve got it going from here.’”

NBA Playoffs Game 3: Orlando Magic Jalen Suggs. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

Jalen Suggs | 24 points
On how much the home fans fueled the team tonight…

“Very much so. I mean, just the confidence that they give you after every bucket. You see everybody stand up, you hear everybody cheer [and] you hear the roars. You know, I think it excites you to come back down, get a stop [and] go do it again. It gives you a bit of extra motivation. Some juice. Some more pop in your step. So, it was definitely felt, and it was rocking in here today. Boy, that was fun. We [were] talking about it all game – just how lit, how energetic it is in there, and yeah, I’d like to keep doing this here.”

NBA Playoffs Game 3: Orlando Magic Frantz Wagner. Photo by Harry Castiblanco / Florida National News

Franz Wagner | 16 points
On which point he realized that tonight was going to be the Magic’s night…
“Probably some time in the third or fourth quarter. I just think you get those leads by just going play by play and taking it from one moment to the next. I thought our urgency all night was really good. Our energy was great, everybody was really locked in, and we need a similar effort on Saturday.”
On what impressed him the most about Paolo Banchero’s performance tonight…
“I mean… the shot-making. That was pretty special. Extremely tough shots. Some against two defenders. It makes the game pretty easy for the rest of us.”
Orlando Magic will need to win three times in the next four games in order to advance to the second round of the NBA Playoffs, something the franchise hasn’t done since 2010.

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Allen and the Cavaliers host Orlando with 1-0 series lead

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Orlando Magic (47-35, fifth in the Eastern Conference) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (48-34, fourth in the Eastern Conference)

Cleveland; Monday, 7 p.m. EDT

BETMGM SPORTSBOOK: LINE Cavaliers -6; over/under is 202.5

EASTERN CONFERENCE FIRST ROUND: Cavaliers lead series 1-0

BOTTOM LINE: The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Orlando Magic in the Eastern Conference first round with a 1-0 lead in the series. The Cavaliers won the last meeting 97-83 on April 20 led by 30 points from Donovan Mitchell, while Paolo Banchero scored 24 points for the Magic.

The Cavaliers are 31-21 in Eastern Conference games. Cleveland is fifth in the Eastern Conference at limiting opponent scoring, giving up only 110.2 points while holding opponents to 46.3% shooting.

The Magic are 32-20 in conference matchups. Orlando has a 6-9 record in one-possession games.

The Cavaliers are shooting 47.9% from the field this season, 0.5 percentage points higher than the 47.4% the Magic allow to opponents. The Magic are shooting 47.6% from the field, 1.3% higher than the 46.3% the Cavaliers’ opponents have shot this season

TOP PERFORMERS: Jarrett Allen is averaging 16.5 points and 10.5 rebounds for the Cavaliers. Max Strus is averaging 2.0 made 3-pointers over the last 10 games.

Banchero is scoring 22.6 points per game and averaging 6.9 rebounds for the Magic. Jalen Suggs is averaging 1.7 made 3-pointers over the last 10 games.

LAST 10 GAMES: Cavaliers: 5-5, averaging 110.9 points, 40.4 rebounds, 28.3 assists, 8.7 steals and 3.9 blocks per game while shooting 48.3% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 113.6 points per game.

Magic: 5-5, averaging 108.1 points, 40.6 rebounds, 23.9 assists, 8.7 steals and 4.9 blocks per game while shooting 45.6% from the field. Their opponents have averaged 106.6 points.

INJURIES: Cavaliers: Ty Jerome: out (ankle), Dean Wade: day to day (knee), Craig Porter Jr.: day to day (ankle).

Magic: None listed.

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