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Vikings drop the “L” word

Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome AP

With the Vikings preparing for what could be their last push toward getting a new stadium built in Minnesota, the man in charge of the franchise’s efforts has invoked the name of a place that could send shock waves through Minnesota.

Los Angeles.

John Vomhof Jr. of the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reports that Vikings Vice President of Stadium Development and Public Affairs Lester Bagley confirmed during an online chat that the team has been approached by the two groups that want to bring a team to Los Angeles.

One group, led by Ed Roski, wants to build a stadium in City of Industry.  The other, led by Tim Leiweke and Casey Wasserman, wants to build a stadium in downtown L.A.  Leiweke recently told ESPN that his group will defer to the NFL regarding the selection of the team that would move to L.A.

Though Bagley stressed that the Vikings want to find a stadium solution in Minnesota, Los Angeles provides them with leverage.  And it also provides them with a viable alternative, if folks in Minnesota ultimately fail to authorize the use of public funds for a portion of the construction costs.

Either way, something needs to happen soon.  The Vikings’ lease at the Metrodome expires after the 2011 season.

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Dan Quinn will have “easy conversation” with Roddy White

Roddy White, Davon House AP

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White said earlier this week that he wants more catches than the six he’s managed through the first four weeks of the regular season.

White likely heard some criticism for that stance because he followed up by saying that his desire to have the ball in his hands more often doesn’t mean he’s unhappy with the Falcons offense and that his primary goal is to win. At the time of the initial comments, coach Dan Quinn said he “wouldn’t want it any other way in terms of the mindset and the attitude” and the topic came up during his Wednesday media session as well.

Quinn said that he would have an “easy conversation” with White, who missed Wednesday’s practice for personal reasons, about his feelings. He also said the team wasn’t going to alter its approach just to put the ball in White’s hands with greater frequency.

“I wouldn’t say a point of emphasis,” Quinn said, via “We’ve got great respect for Roddy and all the unique things that he brings to our team. But we don’t generally go into this or that to make it happen. He’s somebody that we think the world of and think a ton of. The [opportunities] will be there, although they weren’t in some of the games. We certainly think that they will be moving forward.”

Julio Jones is the centerpiece of the Atlanta offense and the Falcons have looked Leonard Hankerson’s way more than they’ve looked to White this season, something that is definitely a big change but not a particularly surprising one. It’s a new coaching staff and offensive scheme that isn’t going to use players the same way that Mike Smith’s staff did, to say nothing of the fact that White isn’t the first 33-year-old wideout to see his role diminish in the later stages of his career.

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Tom Brady takes high road in response to Greg Hardy remarks

Tom Brady, Josh McDaniel AP

In advance of his first game back after a four-game suspension for domestic violence, Cowboys defensive end Greg Hardy made some ill-advised remarks about the wife of Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and her sister.

Have you seen his wife?” Hardy said. “I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game.”

Tom Brady will definitely be coming to the game. But Brady had nothing to say when asked about Hardy’s comments.

I’m just getting ready to play,” Brady told reporters. “I’m focused on my job. He’s a great player. It takes a lot of different things to handle a guy like that. He’s been a great player since he’s been in the league. We’re going to have to prepare for him and be ready for all the different types of moves that he’s got. They have a good D-line anyway. They count on getting pressure from their front four to get to the quarterback. . . . I don’t really care about his personal feelings.”

Via Mike Reiss of, Brady cut the weekly session short after five minutes. “I’m done,” Brady said. “Have work to do.”

That work surely includes getting himself even more prepared for a game that, under the league’s internal appeal procedures, Hardy is allowed to play and Brady, if the league had its way, wouldn’t be. While Brady surely won’t say it, chances are he’s feeling even more motivated than before to not just beat Hardy and the Cowboys, but to send the scoreboard more than halfway to 100, again.

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Lions bring Andre Fluellen back once again

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 07: Andre Fluellen #96 and DeAndre Levy #54 of the Detroit Lions reacts to a second quarter fumble while playing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Ford Field on December 07, 2014 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) Getty Images

Lions are big cats and cats have nine lives, so it shouldn’t come as any surprise that Andre Fluellen is back in Detroit.

The Lions announced that they have signed the veteran defensive tackle after losing Tyrunn Walker for the rest of the season. It is the ninth different time that the Lions have added Fluellen to the roster.

They signed him for the first time after drafting him in the third round of the 2008 draft and then re-signed him in 2011 and 2012. He was released and wound up in Miami that year, but that stint was short and Fluellen returned to the Lions for two games in 2012. He left for Chicago in 2013, but didn’t last long and wound up back in Detroit for 13 more games. He was on and off the team in 2014, spent some time with Buffalo this year and now finds himself back where it all started.

Haloti Ngata is also dealing with a calf injury, which leaves the team thin up front on defense heading into Week Five.

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Sammy Watkins to test calf on Thursday

Sammy Watkins, D.J. Hayden AP

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins opened up the practice week the same way he spent last week, but there’s still hope that he spends Sunday on the field this time around.

Watkins missed last Sunday’s loss to the Giants with a calf injury and remained out of practice on Wednesday as the team started preparing for the Titans. Bills coach Rex Ryan said during his press conference that his absence “doesn’t mean that he won’t be available Sunday.”

Watkins said, via Mike Rodak of, that the plan is for him to test his calf on Thursday to see how much he’s able to do and then move on to making a determination about his status for Sunday.

The Bills also practiced without running backs LeSean McCoy and Karlos Williams on Wednesday and Ryan didn’t rule either of them out either. McCoy said last week that he won’t return to action until his hamstring feels 100 percent while Williams is in the concussion protocol. Boobie Dixon would start if neither of them make it into the lineup.

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The Love Boat, 10 years later

GTY_Love_boat_ml_141106_12x5_1600 Getty Images

2005 was a strange year for the Minnesota Vikings. It began with the trade that sent Randy Moss to the Raiders. It continued with a change in ownership. It culminated with quarterback Daunte Culpepper suffering a torn knee ligament trifecta against the Panthers on October 30.

Earlier that month, the strangeness reached a crescendo on Lake Minnetonka, where a bye-week booze cruise became a money-for-sex romp that resulted in several players facing criminal charges.

It came to be known as the Love Boat scandal, and Michael Rand of the Minneapolis Star Tribune looks back on the fiasco a day after its 10th anniversary. (The Wikipedia page devoted to the case, regardless of accuracy, is far more entertaining.)

Back in December 2005, Deadspin summarized the police reports, which include bizarre allegations involving Fred Smoot and Bryant McKinnie. More recently, Smoot described McKinnie’s activities that night in a way that may or may not induce a craving for okra.

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Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck both officially questionable

Matt Hasselbeck, Andrew Luck AP

Will the Colts’ starting quarterback on Thursday night be Andrew Luck, Matt Hasselbeck or Josh Johnson? The team’s official injury report does nothing to answer that question.

The Colts have listed Luck and Hasselbeck as questionable for the game against the Texans. Luck is ailing with a shoulder injury that forced him out of Sunday’s game against the Jaguars. Hasselbeck, who started in place of Luck on Sunday, is dealing with an illness.

If both Luck and Hasselbeck are out, Johnson would get the call as the only other quarterback on the roster. That’s not a situation the Colts would be happy with, given that Johnson has only spent a few days on the team and couldn’t possibly know the offense.

Given that Luck has said he thinks he’s playing, the most likely scenario on Thursday night is that Luck is back under center for the Colts. But if Luck’s shoulder takes a turn for the worse and Hasselbeck’s illness takes a turn for the worse, things could get ugly on the Colts’ offense.

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The wait will probably continue for Julius Thomas

Julius Thomas AP

The next step in the comeback from a finger injury for Jaguars tight end Julius Thomas is catching passes in practice without a cast.

Actually playing in game — specifically this Sunday vs. the Buccaneers — doesn’t seem to be imminent.

I’m still limited,” Thomas said Wednesday, per the Florida Times-Union. “I’m definitely going to be able to do all of the things I want to do. I don’t know if [playing] is going to be an option yet.”

Thomas was cleared to return to limited practice three weeks ago but is awaiting full clearance. He suffered the injury in the team’s first preseason game and hasn’t had contact or a full practice since.

Though Thomas said he was “definitely excited” about catching passes in addition to just being with the rest of the team for practice, he said he’s still following the plan the team’s medical staff has developed and doesn’t have a timeline for a return.

The five-year, $46 million contract Thomas signed with the Jaguars last March made him the NFL’s highest-paid tight end. He caught 152 passes, 24 for touchdowns, over the last two seasons with the Broncos.

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Owners approve Stan Kroenke’s transfer of NHL, NBA teams to wife

Jerry Jones, Stan Kroenke AP

Rams owner Stan Kroenke still has hurdles to clear if he wants to move his team to Los Angeles, but his ownership of Denver NHL and NBA are no longer one of them.

Via Nathan Fenno and Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times, owners approved a cross-ownership plan, which transfers control of the Denver Nuggets and Colorado Avalanche to his wife, Ann Walton Kroenke. That’s Walton as in Wal-mart, and her personal fortune is estimated at $4.6 billion. Their son Josh will run the hockey and basketball teams.

The league doesn’t allow an owner to own an NFL team in one city and another pro sports franchise in another. This deal was a condition of Kroenke buying the Rams in 2010, and these things take some time because of the complexity of estate law.

But if his deal was approved, it’s at least an acknowledgement that he’s doing what it takes to make peace, since a group of owners appear to be blocking his attempt to move the Rams to L.A.

The Times also reports that Kroenke and Chargers owner Dean Spanos discussed potential Southern California stadium locations during a 2013 dinner meeting, though nothing has come of those talks.

Some degree of sharing a stadium might be necessary, depending on how the league proceeds with divvying up the pie that is Los Angeles.

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Mike Pettine: I misspoke, Joe Haden wanted to play

Mike Pettine AP

Browns coach Mike Pettine made some headlines this week when he said that cornerback Joe Haden didn’t play after being listed as probable on the final injury report of the week because the team “left it up to Joe and he made the decision that he didn’t want to go.”

That comment led some to criticize Haden and that criticism was met by a defense of Haden from some of his Browns teammates. On Wednesday, Pettine addressed Haden’s absence from the lineup again and said that the criticism was “unwarranted” because Haden’s decision was based on what he thought was best for the team. Pettine said he has spoken to Haden and “will bear some of that blame” for not explaining the decision as clearly as he should have.

“Joe made the decision based on he didn’t feel he could be 100% and he felt it would hurt the team if he played,” Pettine said, via “Nobody questions his toughness, his leadership, how important the Browns are to him, what being a Cleveland Brown means to him and vice versa, so I think it’s unwarranted and I misspoke. Joe wanted to be out there. He wanted to play. … He did not want to put the team at risk knowing he could not be at the percentage in his heart he knew he couldn’t get to.”

Pettine also said that they have presented their explanation for why Haden didn’t play to the league, which is doing their standard investigation into why a player listed as probable wasn’t in the lineup on gameday.

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Coughlin “disappointed” by Beckham’s behavior, wants him to remain physical

ORCHARD PARK, NY - OCTOBER 04:   Odell Beckham #13 of the New York Giants breaks free of Duke Williams #27 of the Buffalo Bills during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium on October 4, 2015 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images) Getty Images

Several members of the Bills defense said this week that Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham threw punches at them during last Sunday’s game between the two teams.

There’s video showing Beckham throwing a quick jab at safety Duke Williams at the end of a play to support the notion that Beckham lost control of his emotions during the game. On Wednesday, coach Tom Coughlin said that Beckham came to discuss what happened during the game with him.

“Odell actually came to me and talked about it,” Coughlin said, via the New York Daily News. “Obviously I was disappointed because I think he’s beyond and above a lot of that stuff. And I think he’ll put it behind him.”

While Coughlin would prefer not to see Beckham throwing any more punches at opposing players, he also said he doesn’t want the receiver to be any less physical during games.

Beckham wasn’t penalized during the game, but Dan Graziano of ESPN reports he’s been fined “about $9,000” (most likely $8,681 based on this year’s fine schedule) by the league.

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Ryan Tannehill: It’s slanderous to report things I didn’t say

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It’s been a rocky few weeks for the Dolphins and things didn’t get any calmer this week with the firing of head coach Joe Philbin and reports of practice altercations between quarterback Ryan Tannehill and members of the defensive scout team at a practice last Saturday.

Philbin reportedly asked the scout team to go easy on the offense during Saturday walkthroughs and that Tannehill got into a shouting match with linebacker Chris McCain when that didn’t happen. Per the reports, Tannehill told McCain that he’d build a scout team trophy case for him and told another member of the team to enjoy his scout team paycheck.

On Wednesday, Tannehill admitted that things boiled over during the practice and that he made the crack about the scout team trophy case. He strongly denied saying anything about a paycheck, however.

“I said nothing about a paycheck. I hold myself to a higher standard than to say something like that,” Tannehill said, via Jeff Darlington of NFL Media. “Yeah, I’m upset. It’s slanderous to report things I didn’t say, to degrade my reputation, it’s sickening to me.”

If Wednesday’s practice with interim coach Dan Campbell, which featured the Oklahoma drill, is any indication, there won’t be any calls to take it easy in Dolphins practices for the rest of the season.

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DeSean Jackson back on the practice field for Washington

DeSean Jackson AP

Washington has made it to 2-2, which in the NFC East means a share of first place.

And now, there’s even more reason for hope.

According to Liz Clarke of the Washington Post, wide receiver DeSean Jackson is taking part in practice today, his first action since a Sept. 13 hamstring injury.

To what degree he’s participating isn’t known, but the sight of him will be good news for Kirk Cousins, who had to throw it 95 times the last two games, but is averaging just 6.38 yards per attempt over that span.

It was enough to beat the Eagles, but at some point, Jackson’s big play ability is something they’re going to need.

He was injured on the second series of the opener, and they have muddled along decently without him, running and playing enough defense to be .500. Getting him back on the field could turn them into something more, which in a sloppy division, might be enough.

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Greg Hardy won’t “reminisce,” will talk about Tom Brady’s wife

Greg Hardy AP

Defensive end Greg Hardy is back with the Cowboys this week and, as Darin Gantt noted, he’s ready to come out “guns blazin’” after his four-game suspension to start this year and his long stay on the Commissioner’s exempt list last season.

That wasn’t a particularly good choice of words for a player whose absence was caused by a domestic violence arrest that included allegations that he threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend and threw her on a pile of guns. It wasn’t the only time during Tuesday’s media session that Hardy made a questionable statement.

Hardy made it clear that he wasn’t going to express any remorse or regret for his actions. He said he doesn’t “reminisce” at one point and also said only that he’s sticking to the game plan when asked if he planned to do any work with groups working against domestic violence. That game plan apparently has something to do with Gisele Bundchen.

“I love seeing Tom Brady, he’s cool as crap,” Hardy said via the Dallas Morning News. “Have you seen his wife? I hope she comes to the game. I hope her sister comes to the game, all her friends come to the game. One of my favorite games of the year, guys.”

For some reason, Hardy was then told by a reporter that Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles probably has an attractive wife as well.

“Is she?” Hardy said. “This kind of information is important. That’s how I select my Pro Bowls.”

Brady responded on Wednesday by saying he doesn’t care about Hardy’s “personal comments” and is only worried about Hardy’s football ability.

We’d love to say that the same might not be true of some NFL teams considering signing Hardy after this season, but history says that Hardy will keep getting jobs in the NFL as long as he keeps sacking quarterbacks. Sunday will bring the first chance to see if his unchanged personality off the field is matched by his production on it.

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PFT Live: Justin Forsett, Dashon Goldson, Sam Farmer

of the Pittsburgh Steelers of the Baltimore Ravens during the game at Heinz Field on October 1, 2015 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Getty Images

The NFL owners are meeting in New York this week and the topic of a team or teams moving to Los Angeles is once again a big part of the proceedings.

On Wednesday’s PFT Live, Sam Farmer of the Los Angeles Times will join Mike Florio to discuss the latest developments on the L.A. front. Colts owner Jim Irsay said Tuesday there’s a “high likelihood” that at least one team will be in the city next season and we’ll find out how the Rams, Raiders and Chargers bids to be in that group stack up.

We’ll also be talking to Ravens running back Justin Forsett, who had his best outing of the season in last Thursday’s win over the Steelers. At 1-3, the Ravens aren’t where they want to be after the first quarter of the season and we’ll see what Forsett thinks needs to happen to change that.

Redskins safety Dashon Goldson rounds out the guest list on Wednesday’s show for a chat about this week’s game against the Falcons.

As always, we also want to hear what PFT Planet thinks. Email questions at any time or get in touch on Twitter at @ProFootballTalk to let us know what’s on your mind.

It all gets started at noon ET and you can listen to all three hours live via the various NBC Sports Radio affiliates, through the links at PFT, or with the NBC Sports Radio app. You can also watch a simulcast of the first hour through the links at PFT.

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Interim Dolphins coach busts out Oklahoma drill

Dan Campbell AP

Wednesday marked the first day on the practice field for Dolphins interim coach Dan Campbell, and those watching have reported that Campbell started practice by dividing the offense and defense and holding Oklahoma drills.

So, Campbell probably has his team’s attention. And maybe the NFL Players Association’s attention, too.

The Oklahoma drill — named for longtime Oklahoma University coach Bud Wilkinson — is a full-contact, full-speed drill that includes players either blocking or tackling (or both) in a confined area.

With the emphasis on concussion prevention and player safety, most NFL teams no longer do the Oklahoma drill in training camp — and it’s hard to imagine any team doing it during an in-season practice, even during a bye week like the Dolphins have this week. The Bengals used to open training camp with it, but Bengals coach Marvin Lewis has canceled it the last two seasons.

Campbell, who played 10 NFL seasons as a tight end, obviously thinks his 1-3 team needed a wakeup call and a firm sign that things will be different going forward. It will be interesting to hear what his players think about his methods.

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Philip Rivers named AFC offensive player of the week

Philip Rivers AP

Even though it was against the Browns, it was still a good comeback.

Philip Rivers bringing the Chargers back to beat Cleveland earned him the AFC offensive player of the week honors this week.

Rivers completed 23-of-38 passes for 358 yards and three touchdowns in the win.

While other quarterbacks are left to dink and dunk, Rivers averaged 9.4 yards per pass attempt, showing his willingness and ability to move the ball downfield.

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Colts bring Josh Johnson back

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 03: Quarterback Josh Johnson #8 of the New York Jets warms up before a pre-season game against the Philadelphia Eagles at MetLife Stadium on September 3, 2015 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Colts released quarterback Josh Johnson earlier this week, it looked like a sign that Andrew Luck would be able to return to the lineup for Thursday night’s game against the Texans.

Luck was a limited participant in practice on Monday and Tuesday and told reporters on Tuesday that he’s preparing to start this week. He also added that he wasn’t where he’d want to be in an ideal world, however, and the situation at quarterback got even cloudier when Matt Hasselbeck missed Tuesday’s practice with an illness.

As a result, the Colts have turned back to Johnson to give them some insurance for this week. The team announced on Wednesday that Johnson has been re-signed. Johnson backed up Hasselbeck in the Week Four victory over the Jaguars and last saw regular season action with the Bengals during the 2013 season.

The Colts will issue their final injury report for the Texans game later on Wednesday and it should provide a bit more clarity about where things stand with Luck and Hasselbeck.

Cornerback Jalil Brown was placed on injured reserve after hurting his groin against Jacksonville.

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NFL approves measure to extend international series through 2025


As NFL owners continue to slog through a fight to get the game back in the United States’ second-biggest market, they’ve extended their deal to take it beyond our borders.

The league announced they had approved a resolution to extend their international series of regular season games through 2025, with the ability to take games beyond the United Kingdom.

There has been talk of Germany, Mexico and perhaps Brazil hosting games in the future, and this opens the door for that.

“This marks an important step in our long-term international growth,” commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Fans in the UK have responded incredibly well to the regular-season games we have played in London since 2007. They have demanded more NFL games, and we have worked to accommodate them. We think it’s time to expand our International Series to other countries and respond to the growing interest in our game not only in the UK, but elsewhere around the world.”

Next year’s international games will be announced later this fall. The league had previously agreed to a 10-year partnership with English Premier League soccer club Tottenham Hotspur for two games per year at their new stadium, which will open in 2018.

While London may never be logistically feasible to host a franchise, it’s clear the NFL wants to add inventory there, as they’ve gradually built to three games this season.

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T.J. Ward named AFC’s top defender of the week

DENVER, CO - OCTOBER 4:  Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater #5 of the Minnesota Vikings has the ball stripped by strong safety T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos to end the game in favor of the Denver Broncos by a score of 23-20 at Sports Authority Field at Mile High on October 4, 2015 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Justin Edmonds/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Broncos defense continued to be the thorniest in the league in Week Four and one of its standouts was honored for his play in the 23-20 victory over the Vikings.

Safety T.J. Ward had six tackles and two sacks in the win. His second sack came late in the fourth quarter and also resulted in a fumble that the Broncos recovered to seal their victory over Minnesota. He joins John Lynch as the only Broncos safeties with two sacks and a forced fumble in the same game.

For those efforts, Ward has been named the AFC’s defensive player of the week. It’s the second time in the first four weeks that a Bronco has been so honored with cornerback Aqib Talib taking the honors in the opening week of the season.

Ward missed that game while serving a suspension and has recorded 19 tackles to go with his two sacks in the last three weeks.

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Brees named NFC Offensive Player of the Week

Drew Brees AP

Saints quarterback Drew Brees has been named NFC Offensive Player of the Week for Week 4 of the season.

Brees, who missed the Saints’ previous game with a shoulder injury, completed 33-of-41 passes for 359 yards and two touchdowns against the Cowboys, including the game winner in overtime that marked his 400th career touchdown pass.

Brees recorded a 119.4 passer rating for the game and posted his 46th career game of at least 350 passing yards, the most in NFL history. Brees also became the third player in NFL history to complete 5,000 passes for his career.

Since joining Saints in 2006, Brees has won 19 player of the week awards, the most in the NFL during that span. With 21 such awards in his career, he joins Peyton Manning (27) and Tom Brady (24) as the only players with 20 or more.

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