I’ve been giving a lot of thought lately to the subject of heroes. With all the talk these days about New England Patriots’ injured quarterback, Tom Brady, and how his backup Matt Cassel will fare, I started thinking about all the hoopla these athletes receive. About the time New England sports fans recovered from the Manny Ramirez -Jason Bay comparison, Tom Brady went down with a season-ending injury.

Next up were the stark reminders of the 9/11 terrorists bombings, which soberly put everything back into its proper perspective.

Heck, in Los Angeles, the Dodgers have even had a Manny Night, where people coming through the turnstiles were given an Los Angeles hat with a Ramirez wig under it. Consider that, then consider that West Coast sportswriters are proposing that Manny should be the National League MVP.

On the East Coast, Jason Bay’s stats are common fodder for sports talk show comparisons.

Former USC quarterback Cassel has held his ground so far. Winning two games in Brady’s absence — I still think that might have been a cheap shot that sent the quarterback packing — while looking the part all the while.

And then there’s 9/11.

My definition of a true hero may differ from yours, but there’s one thing we all have in common: We are still shocked by those planes, flying into the two World Trade Center towers. I’m certain the memories of those horrific acts will live on forever.

Admittedly, when I was growing up, there was not enough focus in my world about the true nature of a hero. In Brewer, we always learned of the importance of teachers, police officers, and fire fighters. Memories of Pearl Harbor were still fresh in our young minds because of the constant repetition of family discussions of bravery in the military.

My own father helped put out the Bar Harbor fire. My uncle was a veteran. My grandfather fought in WWI.

Truth be known? Their own stories, although great, often paled in comparison to a young boy’s dreams of names like Carl Yastrzemski, Y.A. Tittle, and Bill Russell.

I have certainly been impressed recently with JFK-like talk of public service coming out of the mouths of presidential hopefuls Barack Obama and John McCain. As adults, we all owe it to our own offspring to return to the talk of public service, always emphasizing those who have gone before us who gave not only of their time to others, but, in many cases, their lives for the causes they believed in.

Yes, we do care about Tom Brady’s replacement. Yes, we do care how Jason Bay performs. But the most important heroes of all walk the streets wearing a police uniform; teaching our children’s classes; or putting out the many fires that plague our towns and our cities.

Repeat that lesson at the dinner table, and we’ll all be better for it.

30-Second Time Out

Is it me, or does NESN get a little carried away — even more than usual — with ludicrous celebrations such as Red Sox play-by-play announcer Don Orsillo’s 1,000th game? TV mogul and Sox owner Tom Werner never misses a trick to turn something into an event. But awarding Orsillo for six-plus years in the booth — are you kidding me? Give me a break.

Orsillo is already padding his resume, preparing for his second postseason baseball stint with Fox.

I have no conscious recollection of witnessing Sox announcing greats such as Curt Gowdy, Ken Coleman, or Ned Martin receiving any recognition that early in their careers.

All of this foolishness runs a close second to the ridiculous “Sox Appeal” program.

C’mon, fellas. Is this baseball coverage, a ratings chase, or both?