What a week in sports. The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars to win their second Stanley Cup in 16 years. The Miami Heat woke up in Game 3 of the NBA finals and gave LeBron James and the Lakers something to think about.

Major League Baseball began its Division Series on Monday, featuring some good old fashioned hatred. In the American League the Oakland A’s take a crack at the maligned Houston Astros, and the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays are renewing a rivalry that boiled over with bean balls and bad blood in the regular season.

Tom Brady engineered a remarkable comeback as he led the Buccaneers to a wild win over the Chargers, reminding everyone he’s not quite done yet. The Giants and Rams ended their game Sunday by trading punches on the 50-yard line.

Games were played. Cheers and groans emanated from living rooms across America. It was almost like the sports world was back to normal.

Almost. Two NFL games were postponed on Sunday because of positive COVID-19 results.

Welcome to sports in the pandemic, already in progress. In 2020 it’s not just whether your team wins or loses, it’s whether the game is played at all. Filling out your fantasy football lineup? Positive tests might be the most important stat to check each week.

On Saturday we woke up to the shocking news that Cam Newton had received a positive test for COVID-19 and would not play against the Chiefs. (Admittedly, it was the second-most stunning positive test of the weekend.) Within hours the game had been postponed. On Monday we watched the Patriots board a bus to the airport and flew to Kansas City.

Flying on the day of a game isn’t ideal, but it’s better than not playing. That’s what the Tennessee Titans were facing after receiving positive test results on six consecutive days last week. Now they have a game to make up.

Frankly, there is plenty of reason to wonder why the Patriots-Chiefs game was played at all. While Newton was the only player to test positive, we are all well aware that it can take days for symptoms and positive test results to emerge for others he has been in close contact with.

Major League Baseball had its first positive test result just two days into its 60-game season. In all more than 40 games were postponed because of COVID-19. Like baseball, the NFL had a full season to play that couldn’t be played in a bubble. That meant players would be going through airports, taking planes and buses and staying in hotels. Each of those steps increases exposure.

Unlike baseball, football teams can’t play doubleheaders to make up for lost games. Major League Baseball pulled off a remarkable accomplishment by getting a full season in, even though it was only 60 games long. Several baseball teams missed numerous games, and there were times along the way when it seemed certain the game would be shut down.

Yet here we are, with eight teams moving into neutral-site bubbles to continue the postseason. And a season unlike any other has the same excitement in playoff elimination games as ever.

Hockey finished its Canadian bubble playoffs and the NBA will hand out its trophy at Disney World soon. The Preakness was run over the weekend, the Triple Crown only slightly tarnished by a delayed run.

Can football follow suit? It will be difficult, but not impossible. Like baseball, the sport may need to adapt and consider moving teams into quarantine and even a bubble as they approach the playoffs. And the fact that the Patriots played Monday night made it clear the sport plans to play through anything short of an outbreak.

Like the rest of society, leagues don’t know what the future may look like during the pandemic. The NHL and NBA still haven’t announced when their 2021 seasons will begin. And baseball has its fingers crossed that spring training will start on time next year.

Those sports have the luxury of being at or near the finish line of this virus-plagued season. Football has a long way to go. Fortunately, games like Monday’s Patriots-Chiefs matchup allow us to forget about all that for a few hours.

Enjoy these games. As long as they last. Because we still have no idea how long that will be.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.

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