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Brady's breakup latest athlete-actress tale of woe

Though it was unclear at press time how the fallout from the news might affect the New England Patriots' chances of competing for another Super Bowl, I nevertheless feel compelled to report the following:

Sara Evans has decided to rejoin "Dancing With the Stars" for a night, participating in a thrilling one-off performance with the national touring company in Nashville on Jan. 21, mere days before the Big Game.

Whoops! Wrong People.com item. What I meant to say was that Tom Brady and his girlfriend broke up. But you know how it goes: You head for a site strictly to get the really important news, and before long you've gone several mouse clicks too far and you're reading about how Hilary Swank survived divorce and that Jillian Barberie is preggers (she used to do NFL pregame, sort of, for those keeping book at home).

Anyway, it turns out Brady had an actress for a girlfriend, Bridget Moynahan, and she gets extra style points for being Mr. Big's wife on "Sex and the City," and she and Brady broke up "several weeks ago," according to her publicist, who felt obliged to release a statement confirming the breakup, perhaps in response to some good investigative journalism.

And although I have to confess that I don't give the slightest damn who Tom Brady is dating, you have to respect the machine. The machine will not be denied.

If they can somehow get Brady and Sara Evans together on stage in Nashville the week before the Super Bowl, this will all make perfect sense in the end.

Good grief! Did Brady's hero Joe Montana have to deal with this stuff?

(Oh, wait. Montana married a woman he met while making a Schick commercial.)

It isn't as though sports and Hollywood don't mix. Not only do they mix, but they've been part of the same mega-industry, ogle-wise, for decades. DiMaggio and Monroe were only the most conspicuous examples of their time. From Joltin' Joe straight on through to Derek Jeter, you're looking at a long line of jocks who made Page Six or its rough equivalent for having the right (or wrong) women on their arms.

What, Brady's supposed to be rich and single and wearing three Super Bowl rings, and staying home nights studying film? What would we have to talk about then?

If memory serves, this very Web site set aside some cyberspace recently to spread the news that Tony Parker and Eva Longoria were engaged. Considering that, a little Tom Brady gossip among friends can't hurt too much. Besides, he and Moynahan dated for three years. That's longer than most pros stay with their teams.

If you are searching for the year when the contemporary jock/star-relationship culture went viral, the best bet is probably 1994, when the late Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes set Falcons receiver Andre Rison's house on fire in the wake of a good love gone bad. That's the Alpha of the recent set, if for no other reason than Lopes (then of the supergroup TLC) and Rison were almost equally famous. It was, as they say in the biz, good copy.

Still, despite years of opportunity to practice, you can tell that ESPN.com, the dear beast, doesn't know what to do with this sort of information. Does it post the Brady relationship story on the NFL page, like it was football news? (I've got to think this affects his fantasy standing, if nothing else.) But don't forget what the "E" stands for in the title (well, it used to … now it's just letters), and Tom Brady dating a great-looking film and television star is certainly entertaining.

Or at least they keep telling me it is. I've got a suspicion that the better Brady story is the one being told by Charles P. Pierce in "Moving the Chains," his new book that attempts to explain what it feels like to be in Brady's skin for a while – an athlete nearing his competitive peak, having already been anointed as Montana's spiritual successor, trying to make it all come true and survive his own gathering fame in the process.

Alas, Charlie probably didn't spend enough time on the rich-guy-dates-actress angle. We can always root for the paperback.

Mark Kreidler's book "Four Days to Glory: Wrestling With the Soul of the American Heartland," will be published by HarperCollins on Jan. 23 and may be preordered on amazon.com. A writer for the Sacramento Bee, Kreidler can be reached at mkreidler@sacbee.com.