Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) calls a play at the line of scrimmage against the New Orleans Saints during the second half of an NFL divisional round playoff football game, Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, in New Orleans. Credit: Brynn Anderson / AP

If Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling were still alive, I would firmly believe he’s messing with my life.

For more than a week now, it has been wicked hard for me to tell what planet I’m on.

After 10 months of living in Maine, where Gov. Janet Mills is keeping citizens and businesses held tightly in pandemic protocol, I’m on sabbatical in Florida. Mask sightings here are as rare as pale people. There’s no 9 p.m. curfew and the only social distancing occurs when someone throws up from too much rum.

But that’s just the beginning of my Bizarro World. For the last two weekends I’ve watched Tom Brady win playoff games from right here in southwest Florida, the heart of Buccaneer land.

In some ways, it’s a lot like how I’ve spent playoff weekends for the past two decades. Cheering for TB 12 as he marches the offense up and down the field, barking at players and refs, and helmet-butting receivers after touchdowns.

But I watched the NFC Championship game safely outside: 81 degrees, on a patio, upwind from potential COVID-19 germs, in sandals and wearing sunglasses. Not normal.

My little mind is having a hard time wrapping itself around the experience of walking the streets and seeing so many people in Tampa wearing Brady Buccaneer jerseys or walking by a shop lined with Brady and Gronk jerseys.

Now I know how William Shatner felt when he looked out the plane window and saw the creature on the wing in one of the famous “Twilight Zone” episodes. Mind. Blown.

Seeing the names on the wrong jerseys is almost like color blindness. I’m surrounded by fans of the guys I cheer for, but the uniforms are so wrong.

I mean pewter, that’s a color? Sounds like a Supreme Court justice.

I will be back in Maine by the time Brady and the Bucs take on the Chiefs in the Super Bowl. Wait! What? Even writing that sentence makes me think I’m breathing in too much carbon dioxide from my mask in this heat.

I feel like when I get home I’ll wake up in my own bed and, just like what happens in about every “Twilight Zone” episode, I’ll think it was a dream. Then I’ll turn on my TV and there will be TB 12 in the Super Bowl with a pirate on his helmet. Rod Sterling would be proud.

Jeff Solari is the founder of the Maine Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports email newsletter. He has been in sports media since he was 17 and is not shy with his opinions or perspective on the world of sports. The longtime sports broadcaster is a graduate of Mount Desert Island High School and the University of Southern Maine. Previous gigs included WLBZ-TV and WCSH-TV, host of “The Shootaround” talk radio show on WZON and stints with “Downtown” and “The Drive.” Solari has won more than 15 Maine Association of Broadcasters and AP broadcaster awards.

Sports Chowdah

Jeff Solari is the president and founder of the Sports Chowdah, Maine’s only free, weekly sports email newsletter. Recently, the Mount Desert Island native was the co-host of "The Drive" on 92.9 FM in...