Falcons have ‘no time frame’ on Matt Ryan extension

Atlanta Falcons:Matt Ryan

Waiting for the Atlanta Falcons to re-sign Matt Ryan and reset the quarterback market? Don’t hold your breath.

Even though the Falcons would like to dictate the pace of the inevitable QB carousel, as NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Wednesday, Atlanta is in no rush to finish Ryan’s extension before the start of free agency, when Kirk Cousins is expected to break the bank with record figures.

“I’m not concerned,” Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff told reporters when asked about Ryan’s contract Wednesday. “Like I’ve said before, our focus is on Matt and getting him secured here for years to come. He wants to be with us, we want him to be here. As I’ve said, I don’t think it’s a complicated situation. I think it’s a significant situation. He’s a very important part to the organization. There’s no time frame on it right now.

Matt Ryan

“I think you would like to go into the season making sure that things are secured but there’s no time frame as far as people saying, ‘Well, do you want to get this done before free agency?’ Of course you’d like to get it done tomorrow, just because it’s a load off your mind.”

Ryan is entering the final season of a five-year, $103.8 million extension he signed in 2013. The 2016 league MVP is slated to make $19.25 million in 2018, the highest base salary among QBs behind Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who is also up for an extension.

Since Ryan last signed a contract, QB numbers have increased steadily. Just last year alone, Derek Carr ($25M), Matthew Stafford ($27M) and Jimmy Garoppolo ($27.5M) each held the title, albeit briefly, of Highest-Paid Player in the League Based on Average Salary (HPPLBAS, for short?).

Will Ryan earn that moniker at some point? The league year begins March 14. After that, all bets are off.

Atlanta Falcons will NOT suffer Super Bowl hangover in 2017

The Super Bowl hangover isn’t a myth. It’s real. History and the eyeball test in the salary cap era tell you it is the truth: Losing on the game’s biggest stage can have repercussions that last long after Super Sunday.

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Since 2000, half of the Super Bowl losers failed to even make the postseason in the following campaign. Just two got back to the conference title game — none returned to the Super Bowl.

The most recent hangover victim? Carolina. The Panthers went from an NFL-best 15-1 in 2015 to 6-10 and dead last in the NFC South last fall. Cam Newton followed up his league MVP campaign with the worst statistical season of his professional life.

So, given this preamble, it’s easy to foresee Atlanta suffering a Super Bowl hangover of epic proportions, right? After all, this team blew a 25-point, second-half lead in Super Bowl LI, handing the Patriots their fifth Lombardi Trophy. Can you imagine the figurative pounding headache that comes from that kind of choke job?

But here’s the thing: I believe in the 2017 Falcons. I think Atlanta’s only gotten better this offseason. I think February’s unthinkable heartbreak is going to fuel this prideful bunch. I think the experience has only made these Falcons stronger.

I can easily see Atlanta getting right back to the Super Bowl in Minneapolis next February.

These Falcons, under general manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn, are spectacularly built. The roster oozes talent, starting on the offensive side of the ball.

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Matt Ryan is a star and now has an MVP trophy to prove it. Having just turned 32, Ryan’s squarely in his prime, fresh off a season where he put up some crazy numbers, including a 69.9 percent completion rate, a 9.3 yards-per-attempt figure and a 117.1 quarterback rating. Now, Ryan did lose his offensive coordinator when Kyle Shanahan took the head-coaching gig in San Francisco. That’s a blow, no doubt. But I loved the Steve Sarkisian hiring. And Ryan still has quite a set of toys at his disposal.

Julio Jones might be the best receiver in the game today. The guy’s an absolute beast who can single-handedly take over a game. (Just ask the Packers.) And Atlanta boasts strong pass-catching depth beyond Jones. Mohamed Sanu’s a quintessential professional, while Taylor Gabriel’s a speed merchant last seen embarrassing Pats stud Malcolm Butler. Tight end Austin Hooper showed plenty of promise in his rookie season, bringing some more speed up the seam.

The Falcons’ $1.4 billion new home, which is set to open August 26, will rise to 30 stories high, feature a retractable roof that can open and close in seven minutes and many amazing views of Atlanta’s skyline.

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However, all of that will be overshadowed — figuratively and possibly literally — by this gigantic stainless steel bird. The statue is 41.5 feet tall and weighs 73,000 pounds. It was created by Gabor Miklos Szoke, who has a thing for nightmarish birds, having constructed the largest bird monument in Europe for the Hungarian football club FTC.

One Twitter user noticed its resemblance to another intimidating bird figure here in the U.S.

The man with the self-proclaimed “best motor” in the 2017 NFL Draft class now has a contract.

The Atlanta Falcons announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with first-round pick Takkarist McKinley, who was selected No. 26 overall last month.

A two-year starter at UCLA, McKinley logged 99 total tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 16 sacks, six forced fumbles and 10 passes defensed in his three years in Westwood. Atlanta traded up five spots to select him last month.

The Falcons also announced Thursday they have agreed to terms with three other draft picks: linebacker Duke Riley, running back Brian Hill and tight end Eric Saubert.

International players added to four practice squads

Four NFC South teams are adding some international flavor to their rosters.

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The NFL announced Thursday, the four teams — Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers — will each carry an additional overseas player on their practice squads during the 2017 season as part of a new International Player Pathway program.

The NFC South teams are granted an exemption for an 11th practice squad member to accommodate the program. These players cannot be activated during the season.

The league said it chose the division to receive the international players in a random.

The players include three players from the United Kingdom and one from Germany:

Atlanta Falcons: Alex Gray jersey, tight end, a former England Sevens star rugby player. He is the first English rugby union pro to quit to take up American football.

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Carolina Panthers: Efe Obada, defensive end, raised in London after moving from the Netherlands at age 10, was signed by the Dallas Cowboys in 2015 but never made it off a practice squad.

New Orleans Saints: Alex Jenkins, defensive end, from the U.K. and played college football at the University of the Incarnate Word in San Antonio, Texas.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Eric Nzeocha, linebacker, from Germany, played three years at the University of Wyoming.

The quartet has been training for the past three months in Florida under the tutelage of Osi Umenyiora and NFLUK head of football development Aden Durde.

The Tampa Bay Police report Martin’s BMW was hit Thursday afternoon by a car that ran a stop sign. During the crash, Martin’s vehicle was pushed off the road before it collided with an air-conditioning unit outside a local business.

Martin sustained minor cuts and bruises as a result of the crash, according to the police. Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reported Martin is “fine” after the accident, but needed stitches for a cut on his chin.

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Martin later confirmed on Twitter he was fine.

“Doug was the unfortunate victim in an auto accident earlier today after leaving our team facility,” Bucs general manager Jason Licht said in a statement. “While Doug’s vehicle sustained a large amount of damage, we are pleased to report that he received only minor cuts and bruises. He has been evaluated by our medical staff and has headed home.”

Nike Buccaneers #40 Mike Alstott Black Men's Stitched NFL Limited Gold Salute To Service JerseyThe driver of the other car was cited for committing a stop sign violation before hitting Martin’s vehicle.

Martin, who is taking part in the Bucs’ offseason program, was suspended at the end of the 2016 season violating the NFL’s drug policy. He still has three games to serve on the four-game ban.

The suspension voided the guaranteed money in Martin’s contract, which could allow the Bucs to jettison the running back without penalty.

“I mean, how old is he?” Bucs wideout Adam Humphries told Pewter Report. “He runs so smooth, take the ball he caught [deep ball over Vernon Hargreaves last week], he makes it look so easy. It is a blessing what he has, the way he runs. It is just fun to watch.”

According to Next Gen Stats, Jackson’s top-end speed actually improved last year, as did his average yards per reception — a stunning 17.9 on 56 catches.

He is exactly the type of boom-or-bust player that can set a team’s offseason hype train on a runaway course — and alongside O.J. Howard and Mike Evans, Jackson has done just that.

Jackson will be turning heads in practice all summer, but it will be quarterback Jameis Winston’s ability to use him in practical moments that will actually cement the hype.

As a Bucs fan, this summer will be a steadily increasing tease. Between nuggets like this from Humphries, the inevitable Hard Knocks bump and the steady stream of positive vibes coming from coach Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay is becoming harder and harder to ignore within the NFC South. Jackson will either define their rise or their disappointment in 2017.

Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan the favorite for 49ers’ job

The Atlanta Falcons remain alive on the Road to Houston, but their talented offensive coordinator might wind up somewhere else.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported Monday that Kyle Shanahan has emerged as the favorite for San Francisco’s head coaching job, per sources informed of the team’s thinking.

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The 49ers have made that known privately, per Rapoport, but now must wait until Shanahan’s season is over before offering him the job. If anyone understands this sequence of events, it’s Falcons coach Dan Quinn, the former Seahawks defensive coordinator who wasn’t hired by Atlanta until after Seattle’s loss to New England in Super Bowl XLIX.

In a related development, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels on Monday took his name out of the running, telling reporters: “At this time, it’s best for my family and myself to remain here.”

Rapoport reported that Shanahan and McDaniels were considered “co-favorites” for the Niners job heading into this week. Seahawks assistant Tom Cable has decided to reaffirm his commitment to Seattle, according to his agent, Doug Hendrickson. Rapoport reported that Cable was well regarded and had a legitimate chance to land the job.

Falcons fans will watch this process closely after Shanahan, the son of Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan, turned Atlanta’s offense into a pure whirlwind in 2016.

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The connections make a lot of sense, similar to lines being drawn this offseason between Browns head coach Hue Jackson and potentially soon-to-be-traded quarterback AJ McCarron. Cousins knows Shanahan’s system and, depending on what happens to Tony Romo, would be the best quarterback prospect to hit the open market since Peyton Manning became a free agent in 2012.

Nike 49ers Men's Ugly Sweater_2Cousins threw for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns and just 23 interceptions over his last two seasons. In that time, the Redskins went 17-14-1. He’s completed nearly 70 percent of his passes; an incredibly high total on par with some of the game’s best quarterbacks.

While Shanahan’s father, Mike Shanahan, is not expected to join the 49ers in a personnel role, as Mike Silver reported on NFL GameDay Morning, Kyle will have a heavy hand in finding his quarterback — something the new general manager needs to understand.

Shanahan has had success with different types of quarterbacks, from Ryan to Robert Griffin III to Brian Hoyer, but will want to eliminate any margin for error when he finally takes over his own team. As Chip Kelly found out a season ago, the duo of Colin Kaepernick and Blaine Gabbert is a relative death sentence for a head coach.

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Former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley wanted to go to San Francisco as Cable’s defensive coordinator. The Niners called Tuesday to try to get him to come anyway and Bradley said no, according to Silver.

It’s clear that the job is Shanahan’s to take, NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported. In fact, the 49ers are expected to arrange a meeting with Shanahan and the top candidates for the general manager position next week, sources informed of the decision told Rapoport.

Once Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels bowed out of the picture, it became clear that San Francisco was willing to wait until after the NFC Championship Game to receive an answer from Shanahan.

While the Seahawks welcome Cable back with open arms, the Chargers are also poised to benefit from a domino effect. Former Jaguars coach Gus Bradley was reportedly holding out for a position on Cable’s staff in San Francisco. Now it’s more likely that he will join new coach Anthony Lynn as the defensive coordinator in Los Angeles.

Offensive Line of the Week: Falcons’ unit fuels dynamic offense

The Falcons’ No. 1 scoring offense was on full display against the NFL’s worst scoring defense Sunday, when Atlanta jumped out to a 21-point first-quarter lead over the 49ers. This game never really was a contest and almost needed a mercy rule as the Falcons tallied 550 yards of total offense and scored 40 points. It was the second time this season the Falcons scored 40 points in back-to-back games, achieving this feat most recently without cheap jerseys of Julio Jones’.

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Atlanta’s offensive line set the tempo early and helped spur a run game that accrued 127 yards in the first half alone and scored three touchdowns on team’s first three possessions. The Falcons finished the game with 248 yards on the ground, led by Devonta Freeman’s 20 carries for 139 yards and three touchdowns. (Freeman became just the eighth player this season to have 100 rushing yards and three touchdowns in a game.) Tevin Coleman jersey and Terron Ward chipped in 58 and 52 yards, respectively. Pro Football Focus credited the Falcons with 146 rushing yards before contact, which led the NFL in Week 15.

Quarterback Matt Ryan, still on pace for a career season, threw for 286 yards and two touchdowns. He continues to exploit defenses with castaway receivers Taylor Gabriel and Aldrick Robinson, who combined for 7 catches and 171 yards. The offensive line was just as good in pass protection as it was in the run game, as it wasn’t responsible for a sack or QB hit. The lone sack came early in the contest on a play-action pass that Ryan scrambled on and slid down before he could get back to the line of scrimmage. While not counting against the O-line, it still goes in the books as a sack — a really frustrating thing for an offensive lineman!

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The left side of the O-line played particularly well. Left tackle Jake Matthews had his highest grade of the season by PFF, and left guard Andy Levitre has had his best-graded games the past two weeks. Center Alex Mack continues to solidify this unit and did a great job moving the nose tackle in the run game. PFF had the unit ranked as the No. 1 run-blocking group and the No. 2 pass-blocking group of Week 15.

After the Atlanta Falcons tabbed Steve Sarkisian for their OC role Tuesday, the Los Angeles Rams named ex-Falcons quarterbacks coach Matt LaFleur as their offensive coordinator on Wednesday.

LaFleur spent the past two seasons as Atlanta’s QBs coach after a year in the same position at Notre Dame. He got his NFL start in 2008 as a quality control coach with the Houston Texans.

LaFleur has experience working with new Rams head coach Sean McVay. The two were on the Washington Redskins’ staff together from 2010-2013 — McVay working with tight ends, LaFleur with quarterbacks.

McVay said at his introductory news conference that he would call plays for China jerseys of the Rams. That will leave LaFleur’s main task to rebuild Jared Goff and help construct an offense that caters to the young quarterback.

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Nike Falcons #24 Devonta Freeman Gray Men's Stitched NFL Limited Gridiron Gray JerseyLaFleur’s resume boasts working with a quarterback group that owned a diverse array of skills. As Redskins QB coach, he helped Robert Griffin III during his historic rookie campaign. LaFleur also worked with Everett Golson at Notre Dame before signing on to aid Matt Ryan in Atlanta.

All-Pro wideout Julio Jones practiced on Tuesday after coach Dan Quinn told reporters that would “participate some.” The receiver has missed the past two games with a toe injury.

Jones hadn’t practiced fully since injuring his toe during the second half of Atlanta’s Week 13 loss to the Chiefs. In his absence, Mohamed Sanu and the explosive Taylor Gabriel have stepped for an offense that sits one game away from matching an NFL record for 40-point games in a season.

The Falcons were an offensive hurricane during Sunday’s 41-13 throttling of the listless Niners. Still, it’s ridiculous to suggest Atlanta would be fine without jerseys wholesale Jones. One of the league’s nastiest matchup nightmares, the dazzling wideout is utterly critical to a Falcons team hoping to forge a long run through January.

Julian Edelman returns to Patriots practice with authentic jerseys

The news comes on the same day the Patriots announced they signed Ebner to a new contract. Ebner has been a core special-teams player in New England, appearing in 47 games over the past four seasons. Ebner was third on the team with 11 special teams tackles in 2015.

Ebner, 27, was an All-American rugby player at Ohio State. The Patriots selected him in the sixth round of the 2012 NFL Draft.

“First and foremost, I want to thanks the Patriots from top to bottom for giving me the opportunity to come back and play for a truly first class organization,” Ebner, per ESPN. “I also want to thank them and USA Rugby for giving me the opportunity to chase a dream I’ve had since I was a boy in a sport in which I’ve always had a passion. I can’t put into words how much this opportunity means to not only me, but my friends and cheap jerseys as well.

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1. Victor Cruz is back on the sidelines. After straining his calf on Tuesday, the Giants wide receiver sat out practice. Cruz told reporters that he was “doing good” and his groin was “better” — read into that what you will. He later said on WEPN-FM in New York that he anticipates returning to the practice field “in a few days.” Cruz is in the midst of a comeback from separate patellar tendon and calf injuries in 2014 and 2015, respectively, so it’s unlikely that the Giants will push their former star wideout to play in their preseason opener on Friday.

2. Dolphins coach Adam Gase jersey said running back Arian Foster won’t play in Friday’s preseason opener against the New York Giants. Foster came off the physically unable to perform list on July 31 as he finalized his recovery from a torn Achilles tendon.

3. Jimmy Graham jersey has taken the field for the first time this year. The Seahawks tight end dressed in his pads and helmet Wednesday in his first action since being placed on the PUP list to start camp. Graham suffered a season-ending patellar tendon injury in Week 10 last season.

4. The Bills are not optimistic about Reggie Ragland returning to the field in 2016. Buffalo’s rookie linebacker has suffered a torn ACL and is expected to undergo surgery tomorrow. The Bills released a statement confirming that they expect him to miss his entire debut season.

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Matt Forte Chicago Bears Nike Women's Game Jersey5. The Browns have moved fourth-round rookie tight end Seth Devalve jersey(hamstring) off of the PUP list.

6. Chiefs general manager John Dorsey told ESPN running back Jamaal Charles and outside linebacker Tamba Hali, who haven’t practiced yet in training camp, would be ready to play in the season opener. Dorsey said the two are expected to return to practice within the next two weeks.

7. Seahawks defensive tackle Jarran Reed went down awkwardly in practice Wednesday and was carted off the field.

8. Chargers coach Mike McCoy confirmed Thursday that Steve Johnson will go on injured reserve and will be out for the entire 2016 season. Johnson suffered a torn miniscus during a July 31 practice.

9. Coach Jason Garrett said Cowboys running back Darren McFadden is progressing well in his rehab from his elbow injury, but the veteran won’t be ready to practice wholesale jerseys or play any time “real soon.”

10. Seahawks rookie defensive lineman Jarran Reed was carted off during practice on Wednesday, but the second-round selection went on social media to say it looked scarier than it actually was. Reed tweeted, “Everything is ok I’m perfectly fine ..see ya tomorrow out there 12s.”

11. Browns coach Hue Jackson said after Wednesday’s practice that two wideouts, Andrew Hawkins and first-round rookie Corey Coleman jersey, will not play in the team’s preseason opener on Friday against the Packers.

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Named after his grandfather — who became renown for revolutionizing football scouting — the younger Belichick is in his fourth year as an assistant with the Pats.

Prior to joining the coaching ranks he was a lacrosse player at Rutgers and walked on to the football team as a long snapper.

To a man, Patriots players have raved about Steve Belichick’s coaching ability.

“Steve’s awesome,” ex-Pats linebacker Darius Fleming told Sessler back in January 2015. “Really intelligent guy, knows the game in and out. I mean, I look at him just as I look at all the other coaches and authentic Nike jerseys. He knows what he’s talking about. If I have a question, he answers it right away. He’s a younger guy, and he’s like a friend also, but he’s a hell of a coach.”

Added Fleming: “I think he’ll be a coach just like his dad one day. I’m curious to see where he goes and how it ends up for him, but I have confidence he’ll be just as good a coach as his dad is.”

With his promotion, perhaps Steve is taking that first big step.

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Tom Brady’s drama-filled season always pointed to Super Bowl LI

Since the first week of the season, it has seemed inevitable that it would end this way, with Tom Brady jersey in his seventh Super Bowl and two years of drama finally winding down to one final scene.

From the moment the New England Patriots beat the Arizona Cardinals in the one game they seemed most likely to lose without Brady — on the road, in prime time, in the first start of Jimmy Garoppolo’s career — the trajectory of the Patriots’ season was set. That first month certified Bill Belichick’s ability to adapt to his circumstances, without Brady and then, incredibly, without Garoppolo, too, shutting out the Houston Texans jerseys with rookie third-stringer Jacoby Brissett under center. But everything after — the 13-1 record since Brady came off his suspension, the nearly flawless regular-season statistics, the relentlessness of the Patriots’ offense even after Rob Gronkowski jersey was hurt — was testament to Brady’s own ability to compartmentalize and carry on.

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“The team was 3-1 at that point, so I didn’t want to screw it up,” Brady said this week. “The team was playing great. I just wanted to come in and do my job as best I could. I always try to be the same person and the same leader for our team. I’ve really tried to show up every day and work as hard as I can. That didn’t change in October. That won’t change tomorrow. That won’t change next season.”

But there were subtle changes this year, a barely perceptible frisson of tension that was never far from the smooth surface of Brady’s public persona. He avoided questions about whether this season was about avenging the suspension, but he also never definitively said he was over it. Instead, he said in one recent appearance that perhaps he would share his feelings about Commissioner Roger Goodell after the season was over.

The Patriots seemed unusually relaxed and loose this week, and owner Robert Kraft jersey, who has been the most outspoken about his ire over Brady’s suspension, spoke of it being such a privilege to play in the Super Bowl that he wanted the players to relish and enjoy it. And then, earlier this week, it was revealed just how much was weighing on Brady all this time, and his carefully controlled emotions came ever so slightly loose. He choked up while saying his father is his hero, and not long after came a report by CSN New England that Brady’s mother had been having health issues for more than a year and had been unable to attend a game all season.

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Jonas Gray New England Patriots Nike Women's Game Jersey“It has been a challenging year for my family for some personal reasons,” he said.

In truth, it always has seemed overly simplistic to think that Brady’s superlative performance this season was solely the product of the sting of scorn. Brady uses slights to drive himself like many athletes do — that he was a sixth-round draft pick is fuel that will help propel him all the way to eventual induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame — but the suggestion that his suspension was responsible seemed somehow to shortchange everything else about Brady’s extraordinary effort, from his minutely controlled diet to his exacting demands of his teammates.

At 39, he is playing with the precision of his 10-years-younger self. His 67.4 completion percentage is second-best of his career (he completed 68.9 percent in 2007), and his interception rate of 0.5 percent is the lowest of his career. He can still throw a deep ball and slide from pressure in the pocket. Is Brady still angry at the NFL about his suspension? Probably, and perhaps he always will be. Is that why he is as sharp now as when he was 25? Only if you include the fact that one less month of physical battering in September — replaced by games of catch with college players and an Italian vacation with his wife — might mean his body feels fresher this late in the NFL year than it has in any of his previous seasons.

Still, listen closely to Brady in recent days and it is clear that a quest for respect is ongoing.

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“At different parts, I looked at a lot of the guys that I’ve played with over the years, and there was a time when the Patriots weren’t a very good team, and no one gave us a lot of respect,” Brady said. “Teammates like Rodney Harrison jersey, that always said, ‘They don’t respect us! They don’t respect us!’ I think that was always a good metric for us. I think feeling that way and feeling like you need to earn other people’s respect is a great source of motivation for me. I think my main motivation is representing my family, representing my team, representing my teammates, representing our fans. That gets me motivated every week. I want to do great for them. I want to try to go out and win every time we take the field.”

He and the Patriots have done nearly that again. This would seem to be another legacy-defining moment for them, and to reach it, they will have to outduel an offense even more explosive than their own and overcome a fast, young defense. Brady grew up idolizing Joe Montana, and if Brady completes the oddest season of his career with a victory Sunday, he will move ahead of Montana with five Super Bowl championships. Wherever the suspension will be noted on his résumé — and whatever impetus it has provided for this season — it will be overwhelmed by all of those championships.

Tony Dungy once said Peyton Manning jersey had dominated his era like no one except maybe Otto Graham, who played 10 seasons of professional football and took his team to the championship game each season, winning seven of them.

But that was before Brady reached his most recent three Super Bowls, before he won his fourth championship. Before it became clear that a season blemished by suspension might very well culminate in celebration.