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Patriots sign Panthers draft bust Terrell McClain

Terrell McClain AP

It’s only been a few weeks since former Panthers defensive tackle Terrell McClain was the highest-drafted member of the 2011 Draft class to be cut by the team that picked him (a title since stolen by former Eagles safety Jaiquawn Jarrett).

Today, McClain’s a Patriot.

The Patriots announced they signed McClain, and released Marcus Forston to make room for him on the roster.

McClain was the 65th overall pick a year ago out of South Florida, but fell out of favor in Carolina after an inconsistent offseason and training camp.

McClain showed some flashes of penetrating ability, but despite getting plenty of snaps for an injury depleted Panthers team in 2011, he quickly fell down the depth chart this year, and was replaced by former Bills defensive tackle Dwan Edwards on the roster and in the starting lineup.

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Tom Brady: Maybe I’ll share thoughts on Roger Goodell after Super Bowl

PHOENIX, AZ - FEBRUARY 02:  (L-R) Tom Brady of the New England Patriots with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Super Bowl XLIX MVP trophy during a press conference folowing the Patriots Super Bowl win over the Seattle Seahawks on February 2, 2015 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images) Getty Images

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady said that he didn’t hear fans at Gillette Stadium chanting “Where is Roger?” at absent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell during Sunday’s win over the Steelers, but selective hearing isn’t going to stop the storyline of Goodell potentially handing the Lombardi Trophy to the Patriots in Houston from growing over the next two weeks.

Brady’s suspension to start the season kept Deflategate on many minds in New England, something owner Robert Kraft referenced after winning the AFC when he said there were “a number of reasons” why it was such a big win. During an appearance on “Kirk & Callahan” on WEEI Monday, Brady was asked if he’s thought about what he’d say to Goodell if they meet after a Super Bowl victory.

Brady may have given it some consideration, but he’s not sharing any thoughts he might have at this point.

“Hopefully we’ll finish the deal. Hopefully we can finish it off and we’ll see. Maybe I’ll tell you after,” Brady said. “But I don’t want to get into winning something before we’ve won it, because it’s going to be hard to win this thing.”

Goodell traditionally presents the Lombardi Trophy to the winning team’s owner, but appears with the MVP at a press conference the morning after the game. If Brady wins the MVP, it should make for a memorable moment.

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Did Steelers conceal Le’Veon Bell injury?

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Le'Veon Bell #26 of the Pittsburgh Steelers reacts prior to the AFC Championship Game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell exited Sunday’s game with a groin injury. He admitted after the game that the he had been playing through a groin issue for weeks.

If he had a “groin issue,” it hadn’t been disclosed in the team’s postseason injury reports. Prior to the Patriots game, Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday and Thursday for reasons unrelated to injury. Prior to the Chiefs game, Bell didn’t practice on Wednesday for reasons unrelated to injury. Prior to the Dolphins game, Bell wasn’t listed on the injury report at all.

If there was a violation, it’s not nearly as clear as last week’s admission from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll that a knee injury to cornerback Richard Sherman had been concealed. If the league investigates, the question will be whether Bell received treatment on the groin. If he did, he should have been listed on the injury report.

The Steelers hardly would be the first team to violate the rules regarding the disclosure of injuries. Violating the rules and getting caught are two different propositions, however. By pointing out that he’d been dealing with a groin issue for weeks, Bell has invited scrutiny of the team’s injury-reporting practices.

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Travis Kelce stands by ref comments, writes out check to NFL

SAN DIEGO, CA - JANUARY 01:   Travis Kelce #87 jokes with  Charcandrick West #35 of the Kansas City Chiefs after he scored a touchdown during the second half of a game against the San Diego Chargers  at Qualcomm Stadium on January 1, 2017 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) Getty Images

Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce got fined $12,500 by the league last week after he ripped the officiating in the team’s divisional round loss to the Steelers.

Among the thoughts Kelce shared was that referee Carl Cheffers shouldn’t be allowed to wear a “zebra jersey” as a Foot Locker employee, something the league would seem to take issue with beyond the fine since it chose Cheffers to work Super Bowl LI. Neither time nor the league’s response to his comments has swayed Kelce’s feelings, however.

“I stand by my statement,” Kelce said on ESPN Sunday. “If the NFL wants my money, they can have it.”

Kelce then pulled out his checkbook and wrote a check to the league that may have also included the $9,115 fine for unnecessary roughness he picked up for shoving Steelers cornerback Ross Cockrell at the end of a play.

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Aaron Rodgers: We need to win more to have the playoffs at home

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22: Aaron Rodgers #12 of the Green Bay Packers is wrapped up by Tyson Jackson #94 of the Atlanta Falcons during the fourth quarter in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Aaron Rodgers and the Packers shook off a mediocre start to the season to play as well as anyone in football over the second half of the season. But Rodgers wishes they hadn’t waited to turn it on.

After losing the NFC Championship Game in Atlanta on Sunday, Rodgers said he wishes the team had played well enough for the entire regular season to get the NFC Championship Game at Lambeau Field.

“If this has taught us anything, it’s how important home-field advantage is,” Rodgers said. “We’ve played in three of these games, and they’ve all been on the road, and that’s just making it tough on yourself. Especially when the consequence is coming to a place like this, having to win here.”

Having to win in the Georgia Dome turned out to be too much to ask of the Packers. Perhaps in Green Bay the result would have been different. But Rodgers will never know, because the Packers lost too many games early in the season to earn home-field advantage in January.

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Hue Jackson won’t hold Senior Bowl skip against Deshaun Watson

TAMPA, FL - JANUARY 09:  Deshaun Watson #4 of the Clemson Tigers celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Alabama Crimson Tide to win the 2017 College Football Playoff National Championship Game 35-31 at Raymond James Stadium on January 9, 2017 in Tampa, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images) Getty Images

Browns coach Hue Jackson might have been disappointed by not getting to work with Deshaun Watson for an extra week.

But he promises he won’t hold it against the Clemson quarterback for deciding to skip the Senior Bowl.

Via Mary Kay Cabot of the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Jackson shrugged off Watson’s business decision. The MVP of the national championship game will be a candidate for the first overall pick, and there were early indications he might go to Mobile before he decided to keep himself safe.

“There are going to be other guys that are not participating either, so I won’t hold it against him,” Jackson said. “I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. He’s still a draftable player, there’s still a process we have to go through to evaluate him and see if he can fit here with the Cleveland Browns. . . .

“I get it. I understand where he is and I’m sure he understood what we wanted to accomplish. Again, he’s got to do what’s best for him. You only get drafted one time, and I respect that.”

The Browns also pick 12th overall, and obviously need a quarterback (copy, save, paste as needed). They were already scouting Watson prior to the end of the season, along with other quarterbacks including Mitch Trubisky and DeShone Kizer. But of the group of underclassmen, only Watson was eligible to play because he had already graduated.

“Obviously we wish he were here,” Jackson said. “It would’ve been a great chance to have an opportunity to evaluate him doing the things we do in meetings and on the practice field. But that’s not going to happen, so we’ll have to find a different way of evaluating him. . . .

“I think he’s a high-character guy. I think he’s made of the right stuff. I don’t think there’s anything malicious about his decision. I just think he’s like a lot of guys who have made this decision to do what’s best for them.”

Carson Wentz chose to play in last year’s Senior Bowl, and an impressive week of practice helped vault him to the No. 2 overall pick. But he was also coming out of North Dakota State, and didn’t have a national title on his resume, either.

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Emmanuel Sanders: We’d win games with Tony Romo, but I trust John Elway

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JANUARY 01: Quarterback Tony Romo #9 of the Dallas Cowboys attempts a pass against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second quarter of a game at Lincoln Financial Field on January 1, 2017 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The word at Broncos head coach Vance Joseph’s introductory press conference was that Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch will compete for the team’s starting quarterback job and General Manager John Elway said after the end of the regular season that the team is moving forward with those two quarterbacks.

That won’t stop some from wondering if the Broncos will look to add a player to the mix in the coming months and anyone who is thinking that way probably considers Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo as a potential target for Denver. Wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders was asked about the possibility of a trade for the veteran and said he thinks it would work well, although he stopped well short of banging the drum for a move.

“I believe I would benefit,” Sanders said. “But one thing about it is: I’m always gonna take it back and I’m just gonna put it on John Elway. In John Elway I trust. If he does bring him over, I think Tony Romo will fit good in [offensive coordinator Mike] McCoy’s system. It’s a no-huddle, up-tempo offense. I think that it’s gonna be similar to the Cowboys. I think he has Demaryius Thomas and some receiver No. 10 on the other side. I feel like we will win ballgames with Tony Romo or potentially a championship. At the same time, Paxton Lynch played in a spread offense at Memphis and he can be successful. I think Trevor can be successful. We’ll see what we do. I can’t sit up here and say ‘Bring Tony Romo!’ because I also have two other quarterbacks that are playing really well too.”

Of the teams that might have a use for Romo, the Broncos are certainly the one closest to competing for a spot in the postseason and beyond. That would likely make them an appealing landing spot for the quarterback, but the signs from Denver to this point have been that they’re looking in another direction.

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Monday morning one-liners

St. Louis Rams v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

WR Marquise Goodwin is coming off a good year for the Bills.

Former Dolphins QB Dan Marino held his annual walk to raise funds and awareness for autism initiatives.

Some Patriots newcomers are getting their first taste of the Super Bowl.

A rundown of early draft projections for the Jets.

How will the Ravens replace LB Zachary Orr on their defense?

The Bengals have started their draft prep.

There are plenty of ties between the Browns and the Falcons.

The Steelers didn’t put much pressure on Tom Brady Sunday.

D.J. Reader could be the Texans’ replacement for DT Vince Wilfork.

How attractive is the Colts’ General Manager job?

Assessing how excited people should be about the Jaguars’ coaching moves.

The Titans drafted four Senior Bowl participants last year.

The top Broncos special teams plays of the 2016 season.

A look at how the Chiefs’ roster was put together.

Former Raiders QB Marques Tuiasosopo is expected to be on the coaching staff at the University of California.

A few NFLPA Collegiate Bowl participants who might interest the Chargers.

Cowboys WR Lucky Whitehead wasn’t happy with the timing of Packers K Mason Crosby’s first miss of the postseason.

Former Giants DB Bennett Jackson is trying to get back into the NFL.

Taking issue with some of the Eagles’ team-building decisions.

The Redskins hope familiarity with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky helps lead to better results.

Bears G Cody Whitehair made a strong impression at last year’s Senior Bowl.

Lions K Matt Prater is likely headed to the Pro Bowl.

TE Jared Cook wants to stay with the Packers.

What was the best offensive play of the year for the Vikings?

Said Falcons LB Phillip Wheeler of the job the defense did against Aaron Rodgers, “We didn’t get to him all the time, but we corralled him.”

Panthers TE Greg Olsen is a finalist for the Walter Payton Man of the Year award.

Some positions for the Saints to watch during the Senior Bowl.

Which free agents will the Buccaneers work hardest to retain?

The Cardinals have 17 unrestricted free agents in addition to LB Chandler Jones.

A win over the Rams started the Falcons on a winning streak that continued on Sunday.

The 49ers will have to wait a little longer for Kyle Shanahan.

Will TE Luke Willson be back with the Seahawks?

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Jordy Nelson comeback moving, but Packers ran out of bodies

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22:  Wide receiver Jordy Nelson #87 of the Green Bay Packers warms up prior to taking on the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images) Getty Images

There weren’t many Packers left standing by the end of the game.

But the fact that wide receiver Jordy Nelson played at all was amazing to his teammates, and moving.

Via Jason Wilde of the Wisconsin State Journal, Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was emotional, and had to pause to compose himself when asked about Nelson’s return to play in the NFC Championship Game after being injured in the Wild Card Round against the Giants.

I’m so proud of Jordy,” Rodgers said. “It’s incredible that he was out there.”

Nelson didn’t play last week against the Cowboys, and was wearing a Kevlar vest and enough padding to make him look like the Michelin man, but had six receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown in the loss to the Falcons.

“All along I was planning on [playing], all the way back from the Giants game, to be honest with you. I was able to get the nod and go out there and play,” Nelson said. “Everyone at this point in the league is doing it. You play as many games as we do, everyone’s going to be banged up. When it comes to playoff time, everyone has to gut it out and do what they can to be on the field and make plays.”

The injuries got ridiculous for the Packers late in the game, as wide receivers Davante Adams (ankle) and Geronimo Allison (hamstring) were playing despite being limited last week. All three were on the bench late in the game, when it was out of reach.

They also lost three starting offensive linemen to injuries during the game [Left guard Lane Taylor (knee), right guard T.J. Lang (foot), and right tackle Bryan Bulaga (possible concussion)] and had to use defensive tackle Letroy Guion at guard to finish the game.

“It’s never easy to watch your players get injured, especially if it’s in a serious nature. Frankly, I’m a little numb to it,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “This is kind of how we’ve had to deal with it. We’ve been able to overcome it. Today, we could not.”

Safety Micah Hyde (shoulder), inside linebacker Jake Ryan (shoulder), safety Kentrell Brice (shoulder), and running back Ty Montgomery (ribs) also left the game and weren’t able to finish.

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Sam Shields still having headaches, wants to continue playing

GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 13:  Sam Shields #37 of the Green Bay Packers celebrates after making an interception against the Dallas Cowboys in the first quarter at Lambeau Field on December 13, 2015 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

Cornerback Sam Shields only played in one game for the Packers this season as a concussion in Week One turned into a season-ending injury for the veteran.

It was the second concussion in less than a year for Shields and he said on Sunday that he’s still having occasional headaches, but neither they nor the long absence from the lineup this season have done anything to dissuade him from continuing his playing career.

“I’m thinking it’s not over. I’ve still got more [football] in me,” Shields said, via the Wisconsin State Journal. “I understand why you ask that. I don’t know. I just love the game, man, and I feel that I can get back out there and play.”

Shields may need to do that in a different uniform. Shields is under contract for next season, but the Packers can save $9 million in cap space if they were to move on and they may prefer more certainty as they try to build a more effective cornerback unit for next season.

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Packers pick 29th, Steelers 30th in 2017 NFL Draft

ATLANTA, GA - JANUARY 22:  A Green Bay Packers fan looks on before the Packers take on the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Championship Game at the Georgia Dome on January 22, 2017 in Atlanta, Georgia.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

We’re a game away from the end of the season, and from knowing the order of next season’s draft.

After yesterday’s conference championship games, the order is almost filled in for the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Packers will pick 29th after their 10-6 regular season, while the Steelers (11-5) will pick 30th. The loser of the Super Bowl will take the 31st spot, while the winner picks 32nd.

There will be a coin flip for the 14th and 15th spot between the Colts and Eagles.

The 2017 NFL Draft will be held April 27-29 in Philadelphia, with the order for the first round as follows:

1. Cleveland 1-15
2. San Francisco 2-14
3 .Chicago 3-13
4. Jacksonville 3-13
5. Tennessee (from Los Angeles) 4-12
6. New York Jets 5-11
7. San Diego 5-11
8. Carolina 6-10
9. Cincinnati 6-9-1
10. Buffalo 7-9
11. New Orleans 7-9
12. Cleveland (from Philadelphia) 7-9
13.  Arizona 7-8-1
t14. Indianapolis 8-8
t14. Philadelphia (from Minnesota) 8-8
16. Baltimore 8-8
17. Washington 8-7-1
18. Tennessee 9-7
19. Tampa Bay 9-7
20. Denver 9-7
21. Detroit 9-7
22. Miami 10-6
23. New York Giants 11-5
24. Oakland 12-4
25. Houston 9-7
26. Seattle 10-5-1
27. Kansas City 12-4
28. Dallas 13-3
29. Green Bay 10-6
30. Pittsburgh 11-5

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James Harrison: I’m not done

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  James Harrison #92 of the Pittsburgh Steelers walks off the field after the New England Patriots defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Steelers linebacker James Harrison retired for a while before returning to action in 2014 and took a little time after last season ended before he declared he’d be back for a 14th NFL season, but he was more certain of what he wants to do in the wake of Sunday’s 36-17 loss to the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game.

Harrison said after the game that “I’m not done,” which suggests he’ll be back to work later this year. Harrison led the team with five sacks in the regular season and added 2.5 more in the playoffs while also drawing a key holding penalty on Eric Fisher in Pittsburgh’s win over the Chiefs.

Harrison admitted that the year took a toll on him physically, but expects to be feeling fine in short order.

“A few little dinks and bruises here and there, but other than that I feel fine,” Harrison said, via ESPN and NFL.com. “Time will heal all of that.”

Harrison doesn’t have a contract for 2017, but it’s a good bet that he and the Steelers will be able to work something out that ensures he’ll be back on the edge of their defense again next season.

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Report: Jim Tomsula to Washington as line coach

Tomsula Getty Images

After spending last year out of football, former 49ers head coach Jim Tomsula found himself in demand.

Via Carol Maloney of NBC4, Washington is hiring Tomsula as defensive line coach.

The deal is apparently not finalized yet, but would reunite him with defensive coordinator Greg Manusky and General Manager Scot McCloughan, former 49ers co-workers.

Tomsula also interviewed with the Saints for a line coach job.

He went 5-11 in his one season as the 49ers head coach, beginning a rapid descent for the team after the Jim Harbaugh years. Things actually got worse under chip Kelly, as they went 2-14 last year.

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Tom Brady: I didn’t hear crowd chanting about Roger Goodell

A New England Patriots fan holds a sign referring to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell during the first half of the AFC championship NFL football game between the Patriots and the Pittsburgh Steelers, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum) AP

When the result of Sunday’s AFC Championship Game was well in hand, the crowd at Gillette Stadium began chanting “Roger, Roger, Roger” in reference to the absent NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.

Goodell opted to attend the NFC title game on Sunday and has not been at Gillette Stadium since DeflateGate was launched, something that the crowd referenced with a slightly different chant. With a helping hand from Patriots radio announcer Scott Zolak, the crowd broke into “Where is Roger?”

Quarterback Tom Brady, who served a four-game suspension this year after a protracted battle in the courts, was asked about the chants after the game, but claimed he only heard the crowd singing earlier in the game.

“I didn’t hear that chant,” Brady said. “I did hear them singing to Bon Jovi though, that was pretty cool.”

Tight end Martellus Bennett feigned ignorance at who Roger was before being told Goodell was the subject of the chants.

“Oh yeah,” Bennett said, via CSNNE.com. “Where is he? He’s like Waldo right now. He didn’t want to come here.”

It’s a good bet that a fair number of Patriots fans will make the trip to Houston for Super Bowl LI and they won’t have to ask where Goodell is come gameday, but it’s a good bet they’ll find a way to express their displeasure with the Commissioner all the same.

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Le’Veon Bell says he’s been playing through groin injury

Pittsburgh Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell watches from the sideline as he waits for the end of the AFC championship NFL football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Jan. 22, 2017, in Foxborough, Mass. The Patriots won 36-17 to advance to the Super Bowl. (AP Photo/Steven Senne) AP

Steelers running back Le’Veon Bell said the groin injury that knocked him out of last night’s AFC Championship Game had been bothering him for weeks.

Last night, it became more than he could bear.

I had no burst anymore,” Bell said, via Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com.

Bell ran five times, left limping, and tried to come back for a sixth. He finished with 20 yards. He said the injury became worse on his second carry, and he could tell he wasn’t himself.

“I felt like I was holding the team back,” Bell said. “It’s real disappointing. We work so hard to get here. I felt like I had done a lot to help us get here. To not play and not go to battle with my teammates, it hurt.”

If Bell was hurting previously it was hard to tell, as he had 167 yards against the Dolphins and 170 against the Chiefs in the playoffs, on a combined 59 carries.

That followed a remarkable regular season in which he had 1,884 yards from scrimmage on 335 touches, despite missing three games with a suspension and sitting out Week 17.

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Belichick didn’t know Falcons had won

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 22:  Robert Kraft, owner and CEO of the New England Patriots (L), and head coach Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots look on after defeating the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 to win the AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Getty Images

When the Patriots began their game against the Steelers, the NFC representative in the Super Bowl already was known. As a practical matter, it was known a couple of hours before kickoff.

One of the few figures in the football-following world who didn’t know was Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

“No, I mean I didn’t even know they won,” Belichick told reporters when asked for his early impressions regarding facing the Falcons in the Super Bowl. “We didn’t see the first game. Obviously they’re a great team or they wouldn’t be playing in this game. They’ve had a great year.”

Asked later whether the team deliberately avoided the Packers-Falcons game, Belichick gave a pragmatic answer: “Yeah, we were focused on this game. I mean that game, if we didn’t win this game then that game didn’t make any difference.”

While it’s entirely possible that Belichick sufficiently walled himself off from the results of the early game, surely he asked and/or someone told him between the time his game ended and his press conference started. So maybe something like “I just found out they won” would have been more accurate and less arguably dismissive of the Falcons.

The Falcons are used to being dismissed, and they’ll surely be scouring all quotes and comments over the next 13 days for evidence that people are continuing to overlook them in order to push the buttons on players and coaches who have accomplished many great things while most have shrugged.

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