By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — If you run a newspaper in New York, it’s hard to get people to buy a paper if the back page features any athletes or story lines from the nine major sports teams based in or near New York City. The Jets won their Super Bowl in Week 16 but failed to make the playoffs; the Giants went 6-10 and then hired a guy who looks like he eats eight meals a week at TGI Friday’s to be their head coach; the Yankees and the Mets aren’t exactly moving the needle here in January; the Nets are a dumpster fire; the Knicks have Kristaps Porzingis, but they’re mediocre at best; the Rangers and Islanders are uninspiring; the Devils aren’t really New York’s team to begin with, but they’re not very good either.

So, when in doubt, the New York Daily News has gone back to an old standby: Milking a Tom Brady story for attention.

This is obviously nothing new, as the Daily News basically relied on Brady to provide back (and front) page material for the entire calendar year of 2015. But at least then, there was a scandal — or, I should say, a “scandal.”

But on Wednesday, playing off comments from Broncos defensive end Antonio Smith, the Daily News was at it again.

New York Daily News Back Page for January 20, 2016. (Photo from New York Daily News)

New York Daily News Back Page for January 20, 2016. (Photo from New York Daily News)

Ha. CryBRADY. Get it? It’s like crybaby, but it also has the quarterback’s name in it. Do you see? That’s brilliance at work, folks.

It’s such a huge story that the man who made the comments isn’t even well-known enough to warrant being named on the back cover. Yet it’s a big enough story for the News to make a REALLY WEIRD Photoshop image that shows a baby with chest hair and belly hair. Did the baby need chest hair? Did a real, adult human being spend time meticulously adding chest hair to the stock image of a baby? What does that man or woman tell his or her family upon getting home?

“How was work today, honey?”

“It was fine, the usual, you know. Oh, and I … I also … I had to … [chokes up] … I had to … Photoshop chest hair … onto … “

“Onto what, dear? On what did Photoshop some chest hair?”

“A BABY’S BODY! I HAD TO PUT CHEST AND STOMACH HAIR ON A BABY’S BODY! [begins sobbing uncontrollably; experiences mid-life crisis; changes career]”

It’s kind of disturbing, if you really think about it.

Anyway, the story itself quotes the aforementioned Smith, who made a total of nine (9) tackles this season. He’s had a decent career but is by no means a well-known name around the league. Really, the only other time he’s made any headlines was when he accused the Patriots of cheating in order to beat his 2-9 Texans. Those claims were made by a man who might not have been very smart. Oh, he also looked sharp in his Texans letterman jacket, too.

Nevertheless, when he speaks about Brady, that’s front-page worthy in New York City, America’s most populated city that just can’t seem to get over its obsession with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

The story here is not about Tom Brady, or Antonio Smith. It’s about the New York Daily News. If only those folks knew how sad that really is.

In the meantime, enjoy this never-before-seen footage of New York Daily News editors when they actually ran into Tom Brady in real life:

UPDATE: It turns out the New York Post also ran basically the same exact back cover, though they had the decency to not force any staffers to manipulate chest hair onto a baby’s body. That’s nice.

New York Post Back Page Cover on January 20, 2016. (Photo from New York Post)

New York Post Back Page Cover on January 20, 2016. (Photo from New York Post)

In any event, if you want a story on the Post’s decision to run this back page, please start this story from the beginning, and replace all “New York Daily News” mentions with “New York Post.”

You really ought to start seeing a doctor, New York tabloids. This obsession is not healthy.

You can email Michael Hurley or find him on Twitter @michaelFhurley.

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