With the start of the 2018-19 NBA regular season upon us, the Patriots-Chiefs game on Sunday reminded me of Michael Jordan’s friendly pregame chalk toss at the scorer’s table. But it was Breeland Speaks who was doing the powder-puffing when he graciously allowed Tom Brady to limp into the end zone late in the game. His explanation was that he wanted to avoid a penalty for roughing the passer.

I thought cordial games were played with one less shoulder pad and collared shirts.

Roughing-the-passer is one of the NFL’s “points of emphasis” this year, and I sort of get it. Whatever team we root for, we would all rather watch an injury-free Brady sling the ball instead of backup Brian Hoyer.

But I have better things to watch than high-quality touch football. The Red Sox game, for example, or the MLB postgame analysis. Or even a "Bosom Buddies" rerun, for that matter.

Speaks’ rush was embarrassingly nerfed by the league’s anti-roughing policy. He tenderly hugged and then lovingly released Brady to score late in the game. Heartwarming, I guess; as they say, if you love something, let it stumble freely into the end zone.

I like Brady. I’m happy for the team. I have close ties to Boston, so I’m glad the Pats won the game. But I lost something on Sunday; I lost what I love about professional sports. The unfettered athleticism and toughness are gone. For me, the Pats win was little more than a booby prize.

So I have to wonder, what’s next? A 15-yard penalty for hurting the passer’s feelings? Ejection for mean-mugging the passer? A fine from the league for violating a passer’s safe space? Surely we can all agree that it's a simple matter of physics: A 285 pound, 6’3” defender cannot avoid throwing a bit of shade.

But I guess that’s where we are headed, like it or not — a friendlier game. That’s fine; I’ll probably still watch pro football, even if from now on it’s through a filtered WWE lens. But let us be honest: Pass rushers can no longer showcase their raw talent to affect games the way Lawrence Taylor did long ago.

For a league that invests so much in marketing a rough-guy image, it is ironic that they would allow, indeed embrace and emphasize, anything that would hurt their beloved brand. But that is what they have done. They have fully replaced “roughing” with "ruffling" the passer.

Richard “Artie” Hoffman is an ocean sailing instructor and author of Homeschooled in Austin College in Boston.