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Bucs resisting temptation to move Barber back to corner

Tampa Bay Buccaneers free safety Ronde Barber celebrates his interception of a Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan pass during their NFL football game in Tampa Reuters

The Buccaneers are extremely thin at cornerback.

But even though they have one guy who used to be really good at it, they’re hesitant to move Ronde Barber back from free safety.

We just feel comfortable with what we’re doing right now,” Bucs coach Greg Schiano said, via Roy Cummings of the Tampa Tribune. “I’m not going to say that that would never happen. But that’s not what we want to do right now.”

With Eric Wright suspended and Aqib Talib pawned off on the Patriots, the Bucs are down to starting E.J. Biggers and undrafted rookie Leonard Johnson at corner, with journeyman Danny Gorrer in their nickel package.

The results have been about like you’d expect.

The Bucs are last in the league in pass defense, allowing 315.5 yards per game, or more than 14 yards per game more than the 31st-ranked Redskins.

Barber has five Pro Bowls on his resume playing cornerback, but there’s a reason he’s inside. As much as he’s helped rookie Mark Barron, the 37-year-old lacked range in recent years, and playing safety’s probably the only thing keeping him from hanging out with his retired brother Tiki.

Barber said he didn’t think the Bucs current situation was “an emergency,” that would require him moving back, there have been moments where he’s had to reprise old roles. When they go to their dime defense, he becomes a de facto nickel corner, playing over the slot, a position from which he can cover or blitz. Making him the nickel doesn’t seem like that big a leap, but Schiano didn’t seem inclined to make changes at multiple positions.

“I kind of like his command back there [at safety], and he and Mark are working together,” said Schiano. “Absolutely, that comes into play. When you make position changes you [have to ask], ‘Do you want to move two guys?’ because now you’re jeopardizing two [positions] rather than one.”

The reason Barber doesn’t seem to be pushing for the job is probably a case of late-career realism. In a division full of top-flight receivers, Barber was exposed a bit in recent years, and moving back onto the island probably wouldn’t be good for the Bucs’ present or his legacy.

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Patriots in talks to bring back line coach Dante Scarnecchia

Miami Dolphins v New England Patriots Getty Images

Based on the beating Tom Brady took in the AFC Championship Game, the Patriots can use all the offensive line help they can find this offseason.

That might begin on the sidelines.

According to Mike Reiss of ESPN.com, longtime Patriots line coach Dante Scarnecchia and the Pats have had discussions about his returning to the coaching staff.

The 67-year-old Scarnecchia broached the subject with the team, hoping to return after a two-year retirement. He’s been around the team as a consultant, and advised during the scouting process the last two years.

The Patriots didn’t renew offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo’s contract, so there’s an opening.

The Patriots allowed 38 sacks this season, the third-most of his career. He was also hit 20 times by the Broncos in the AFC title game. They were also 30th in rushing.

Of course, unless Scarnecchia is also a faith-healer, the problems there are beyond coaching. They were hammered by injuries all year, going through five left tackles over the course of the year.

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Cam Newton: Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers reacts after the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers with a score of 24 to 10 to win Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton’s response to losing Super Bowl 50 has been the subject of much discussion in the last couple of days and Newton addressed it while players cleared out their lockers in Charlotte on Tuesday.

Newton didn’t have much to say to the media during a sulking postgame appearance in the Levi’s Stadium interview room and briefly walked away from the podium, likely because of what he could hear jovial Broncos players saying on the other side of a partition erected between the two teams. On Tuesday, Newton agreed with those that have called his reaction the behavior of a sore loser.

“Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,” Newton said, via Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer. “If I offended anyone, that’s cool … I don’t have to conform to anybody’s wants for me. I’m not that guy. This is a great league with or without me. I am my own person.”

The problem with that is that plenty of players and coaches that no one would describe as a loser have been able to handle the aftermath of a loss without the reaction that Newton had on Sunday night. It’s a pretty big stretch to say that group has less of a desire to win than Newton has, although giving those answers after the game or some variation that illustrated how hard it was for him to accept losing would have likely elicited much less of a reaction.

The group of people who have handled it better include many of his teammates and head coach Ron Rivera, who defended Newton during an appearance on PFT Live Tuesday while adding that the quarterback needs to “learn and grow” from the Super Bowl experience.

Rivera also said that he had “no problem” with Newton not diving for his late fumble that set up C.J. Anderson’s touchdown. Newton also addressed that on Tuesday.

“I don’t dive on one fumble because the way my leg was — it could have been [contorted] in a way,” Newton said. “OK, you say my effort. I didn’t dive down. I fumbled. That’s fine. But we didn’t lose that game because of that fumble. I can tell you that.”

Newton added that no one’s expectations for him are greater than his own and that the Panthers are going to be back in 2016. Their ability to meet that expectation will continue to be discussed for the many months to come before they can return to the field to prove it.

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NFL will consider Talib suspension

Zz00MjdjZDdmNDk0ZmU3ZmRlNWYzYTI2MTg2M2FkMDkzYQ==-1 AP

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib viewed his decision to violently pull Panthers receiver Corey Brown to the ground by his facemask as something that would simply draw the equivalent of a parking ticket. Talib instead may be parked on the couch when the 2016 season begins. (And we now know that the couch is a dangerous place.)

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the NFL will consider suspending Talib for his admittedly intentional and blatant decision to grab, twist, yank, and pull Brown’s facemask under circumstances that resulted in a small impact on field position, since Brown was inside the Denver five yard line.

The league office will examine Talib’s conduct within the confines of the normal course of post-game evaluations. Talib’s history will be a factor, along with his comments reflecting clear intent to violate an important safety rule.

Another factor will be the reality that more and more players are now admitting in public the nefarious purpose of their actions. Apart from discouraging the behavior, the NFL needs to create a clear disincentive when it comes to telling the world, essentially, “Yeah, I did it. I meant to do it. And I’ll do it again.”

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NFLPA not commenting on new rule for incoming players

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 25: Offensive lineman David DeCastro of Stanford participates in the vertical jump drill during the 2012 NFL Combine at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 25, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) Getty Images

The NFL has decided to implement a new rule that bars college players with a record of certain types of crimes from participating in the Scouting Combine, attending the draft, or appearing at any other league-sanctioned event before they are selected. Reached by email on Tuesday, the NFL Players Association had no comment on the new rule.

Implied in the lack of comment is that the NFL did’t consult with the union before unveiling the new rule. It’s potentially not required, given that incoming players aren’t members of the NFLPA. Still, the union was directly involved in the development of the rule that imposes a three-year post-high-school waiting period on players entering the draft, and that rule directly impacts players not yet in the league.

The bigger question is this: Does it make a difference if players convicted of domestic violence, sexual assault, or weapons offenses are banned from attending the Scouting Combine? Teams will still find out everything they need to know about the player, and teams will still draft talented players regardless of their personal history.

The only way to ever change that would be to tie draft-pick forfeitures on teams who give a player a second chance and who then fail to ensure that the player doesn’t get in trouble again. To be clear, I’m not saying the league should do it that way; instead, I’m saying that any other approach is window dressing and/or P.R. spit-and-polish.

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Colts raise ticket prices, promise they’ll stay the same in 2017

Jim Irsay AP

The Colts went with continuity when it came to making a decision about keeping head coach Chuck Pagano and General Manager Ryan Grigson after a disappointing season, but there will be changes for the 2016 season.

Those changes go beyond the tweaks to the coaching staff under Pagano that have already been made and the inevitable alterations to the roster that will come in the next few months. In a letter to season ticket holders, owner Jim Irsay announced in a letter to season ticket holders that non-club/suite tickets will cost their owners more for the 2016 season.

The increase ranges from “1.4 percent to 6.3 percent” depending on the ticket, per the Indianapolis Star, with Irsay telling ticket holders that seats at Lucas Oil Stadium have increased about two percent per season since the building opened. Irsay vowed to make moves that will bring better results the next time out for the Colts.

“The 2015 season did not produce the outcome for which we continually strive, but I am extremely optimistic for the future!” Irsay wrote. “I will do whatever it takes to put our team in a position to have a successful 2016 season.”

Whether the Colts succeed or not, they won’t be asking for more from their fans this time next year. Irsay said there will be no increase for the 2017 season.

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NFL investigating McCoy and Manziel, paid leave not imminent

Zz1hZjI3NzAyOGY5ZjgxM2Q2ODQ5OGVjMTRhZjJkZjlmMA== AP

The afterglow of the Super Bowl has been disrupted by the dusting off of the police blotter, with two players grabbing headlines that otherwise would go to more talk about quarterbacks taking too long to jump on fumbles and/or leaving too quickly the post-game podium.

The NFL says that it began reviewing incidents involving Bills running back LeSean McCoy and Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel “immediately after they occurred.”

While paid leave is possible for both players, nothing will happen in the immediate future.

“The players are off per the CBA and not being paid now,” NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told PFT by email. “It would serve no purpose and is not what paid leave was designed to accomplish.”

Paid leave was designed to take the heat out of a hot kitchen by putting the player on the couch without officially suspending him. With no games currently being played, there’s no reason to take action.

That’s very good news for the Browns, who can now resume waiting for March 9 to cut Manziel without having to rush to create cap space so that he could be put on permanent unpaid leave before the league puts him on paid leave.

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Family was celebrating, but Eli Manning was lost in thoughts of two

EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - SEPTEMBER 21:  Eli Manning #10 of the New York Giants looks pon during warm ups prior to their game against the Houston Texans at MetLife Stadium on September 21, 2014 in East Rutherford, New Jersey.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) Getty Images

Plenty of people were wondering why Giants quarterback Eli Manning had a blank stare on his face when his brother led a Super Bowl-clinching touchdown drive.

The short answer might be that that’s just his default face.

Via the New York Daily News, the younger Manning said that when network cameras caught him expressionless while the rest of his family was celebrating, he was thinking about game situations.

I was just focused on whether they’d go for two and uh, the defense had to step up and make some stops,” Eli said to a TMZ cameraman.

Of course, that didn’t keep it from going viral, as it was the look of a man with a pending dental appointment as opposed to a man whose brother just tied him for the family lead with two Super Bowl wins each.

Eli was able to laugh about being caught hollow-eyed while his mom and brother were going bananas, but the fact he’s calmly thinking about clock management and when to go for two could be of some consolation to Giants fans.

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Ron Rivera defends Cam Newton on fumble, press conference

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers and head coach Ron Rivera of the Carolina Panthers stand on the field prior to Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers coach Ron Rivera has no issues with the way Cam Newton conducted himself in Super Bowl 50, on the field or afterward.

Asked on PFT Live about Newton’s sullen attitude at the post-Super Bowl press conference, Rivera said the public got to see the raw feelings of a great competitor whose team had just fallen short.

“The one thing about Cam that I think a lot of people have to understand is he hates to lose. He really does. And a lot of great ones have that,” Rivera said. “Unfortunately, we just didn’t win the big one. I think he’ll learn and grow from this situation and come back stronger next year.”

Rivera also said criticism of Newton for failing to fall on a fourth-quarter fumble is unfounded. Rivera said Newton was trying to locate the ball and get himself into position to recover it.

“I think he was looking for the rebound. When that group of guys came diving in, when it ricocheted backwards, he tried to turn and get after the ball. When you look at the circumstances he was looking at, I have no problem with that,” Rivera said.

Now, Rivera says, he needs his team to get back on track and ready to come back better in 2016.

“Just rebuilding the confidence, getting that swagger back that we’re going to need heading into next season,” Rivera said. “Right now we’re down, I know that, our players feel it, but we’ve got to get it back and get it back early.”

That starts with his best player.

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Greg Jennings says Ryan Tannehill wants more freedom in offense

Buffalo Bills v Miami Dolphins Getty Images

Since being hired as the new Dolphins head coach, Adam Gase has spoken often about the need for quarterbacks to have the full support of their coaches.

That’s something that didn’t always appear to be the case for Ryan Tannehill in Miami when Joe Philbin was the head coach and Bill Lazor ran the offense. During an interview with the team’s website, wide receiver Greg Jennings said that Tannehill was “hand-held” by the previous coaching staff and that has hindered his growth as a player because he hasn’t been able to learn from mistakes he’s made in the past.

“Anytime you’re holding someone’s hand, you’re refusing to let them grow…,” Jennings said. “I’m going to speak for Ryan right now, which I typically don’t do. He wants some more freedom. He knows that he’s not been able to do the things that he really wants to do.”

For the right quarterback, being given more to do along with the knowledge that your coaches are confident you can do it can make a world of difference. The Dolphins may find out if Tannehill is the right quarterback under those conditions this season.

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T.J. Ward: Maybe Cam needed to stay healthy for next year

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos recovers a fumble by Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California.  (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) Getty Images

Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been roundly criticized for failing to fall on his fumble with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, a fumble that all but sealed the game for the Broncos.

The player who did recover that fumble, Broncos safety T.J. Ward, believes Newton was motivated by a desire to protect himself and stay healthy in the offseason.

“If he would have touched that ball, I was gonna hit him right in his face, and I wasn’t the only one,” Ward told Mike Silver of NFL.com. “We were hungry for that one. We saw that ball and it was like hyenas on an antelope. And I don’t know — maybe he needed to stay healthy for next year.”

It’s hard to understand what Newton was doing. It certainly looked like he didn’t want to dive into the scrum, but Newton has always been a physical runner, and he’s never been afraid to play through injuries. Why would he suddenly lose his toughness in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl? That’s a good question for Newton, who at the moment isn’t answering questions.

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Panthers center on fumble: “Cam’s not the quitting type”

SANTA CLARA, CA - FEBRUARY 07:  Von Miller #58 of the Denver Broncos and Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers attempt to recover a loose ball during the fourth quarter of Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium on February 7, 2016 in Santa Clara, California. T.J. Ward #43 of the Denver Broncos (not pictured) recovered the fumble by Cam Newton #1 of the Carolina Panthers on the 9-yard line.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

Many have wondered if Panthers quarterback Cam Newton made a business decision, when he didn’t dive for a fumble late in their Super Bowl loss to the Broncos.

But Panthers center Ryan Kalil said it was ridiculous to think Newton quit on the play.

Cam’s not the quitting type. So this idea or this notion that he quit on us is garbage. I think it’s absolute garbage. That’s not who he is,” Kalil said. “We just didn’t play good enough. And as an offensive line group, didn’t give him enough confidence to do what he does best, . . .

“And really we just didn’t get in a rhythm. That’s what killed us. Any time we had any kind of momentum, we killed ourselves in penalties and not taking care of the football.”

That’s likely true in a general sense, though Kalil admitted he hadn’t seen the replay of the play in question.

It’s possible that the ball was between Newton’s feet and he see it well and didn’t think he could get to it (like a pop foul that goes straight over a catcher’s head and makes him look temporarily like he’s lost in a foreign land). But he had taken a step toward it before it bounced to that spot, which made it look like he pulled up to avoid diving into a pile.

During his brief post-game appearance, Newton’s only reply when asked about the play was “I don’t know.”

And that might be the only honest answer, since the play came when the Broncos were up 16-10 late in the fourth quarter, so it’s not as if it didn’t matter.

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Tuesday morning one-liners

27 NOV 1994:  LINEBACKER KEVIN GREENE OF THE PITTSBURGH STEELERS DURING THE STEELERS 21-3 WIN OVER THE LOS ANGELES RAIDERS AT THE MEMORIAL COLISEUM IN LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA.  MANDATORY CREDIT:  MIKE POWELL/ALLSPORT Getty Images

What can the Bills learn from the Broncos?

A positive take on DT Ndamukong Suh’s first season with the Dolphins.

Taking a look at the long-term decisions at quarterback for the Patriots.

Joe Namath is in favor of Colin Kaepernick coming to the Jets.

A call for the Ravens to beef up their pass rush.

Thoughts about the Bengals in the wake of the Super Bowl.

Should the Browns be building around defense first?

A look back at Kevin Greene’s years with the Steelers.

Can the Texans become the first team to play the Super Bowl at their home stadium?

The Colts are expected to dip into the college ranks for a new wide receivers coach.

There’s plenty of money for the Jaguars to spend in free agency.

Said Titans QB Marcus Mariota, “It’s nice to have some time off, but I just can’t wait to get going and get back on he field. It seems like such a long time [until April], it’ll come quicker than we know.”

Denver is getting ready to host a Broncos victory parade.

The Chiefs weren’t thrilled that the Royals wished the Panthers luck in winning the Super Bowl next season.

Former Raiders QB and coach Tom Flores was one of two coaches ignored by Jim Nantz when he said Gary Kubiak was the first coach to win the Super Bowl for the team he played.

A Chargers-eye view of the Broncos winning the Super Bowl.

Cowboys TE Jason Witten shared three keys for better success next season.

A pair of Broncos that might interest the Giants in free agency.

Riley Cooper’s departure from the Eagles isn’t being met with much displeasure.

Will free agency be the path to improvement for the Redskins defense?

The 1985 Bears defense has been thrown into comparisons with this year’s Broncos unit.

Resource management is a lesson the Lions can learn from the Super Bowl.

DB Robertson Daniel hopes to earn a role on the Packers defense next season.

Vikings LB Anthony Barr is rooting for Von Miller to cash in this offseason.

Von Miller had praise for Falcons defensive coordinator Richard Smith after being named Super Bowl MVP.

What do the Panthers need to do to return to the Super Bowl?

G Jahri Evans made a big impact during his Saints career.

A new position coach probably isn’t the end to the changes to the Buccaneers defensive line.

Upgrading the pass rush is a priority for the Cardinals.

Former members of the Rams had big roles on both sides of the Super Bowl.

Former 49ers RB Ricky Watters is working to help children from foster homes make successful transitions to adulthood.

Some ways the Seahawks could spend the money they’re saving with RB Marshawn Lynch retiring.

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Wade Phillips: Too much dab will undo you

HOUSTON, TX - AUGUST 22:  Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips of the Denver Broncos waits on the field before their game against the Houston Texans  at  NRG Stadium on August 22, 2015 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

Unlike many football coaches (and 68-year-olds), Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips has shown an affinity for social media.

Phillips has been a pretty active Twitter user in the last few years and his account has been an entertaining one to follow, particularly after the team wins a big game. Phillips had some fun after the Broncos beat the Packers in the regular season and he got in a shot at the Panthers a day after his defense overwhelmed Carolina in the Super Bowl.

“A little Dab with [sic] do you but too much Dab will undo you!” Phillips wrote.

During Super Bowl week, the Broncos got asked a lot about the Panthers’ penchant for celebrating big plays and pretty much went with the approach that it was the defense’s job to make sure that the offense had nothing to celebrate. Unlike the other teams to face the Panthers this season, they were actually able to do it and Phillips makes it pretty clear that they took a lot of satisfaction in doing it.

Phillips followed up the tweet a bit later with one that said his father always told him “you can have fun and win.” It’s a lot easier to have fun after you win, though, and Phillips was doing just that on Monday.

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Report: Eagles close to massive deal with Fletcher Cox

PHILADELPHIA, PA - DECEMBER 26: Fletcher Cox #91 of the Philadelphia Eagles looks on during the closing moments of a game against the Washington Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field on December 26, 2015 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Redskins defeated the Eagles 38-24. (Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) Getty Images

The Eagles have moved quickly to sign up their young players for the foreseeable future, and they may be nearing the biggest one yet this offseason.

According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, the Eagles are negotiating a massive deal with defensive tackle Fletcher Cox which could feature more than $50 million in guarantees.

The report says the deal is “close,” and given the pace at which they’ve been passing out money to Lane Johnson, Zach Ertz and Vinny Curry, it’s reasonable that they’re trying to get as much done as quickly as they can. Cox had a year left on his rookie deal, after they picked up his option for 2016.

Cox had 9.5 sacks as a 3-4 defensive end last year, and will slide inside as they convert to a 4-3 defense next season, but he’s versatile enough to play a number of roles.

Of course, until one of those roles is quarterback, the Eagles still have a pretty big item on their offseason to-do list.

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Brady: I wish I could make it look as easy as other quarterbacks do

FOXBORO, MA - JANUARY 18:  Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots in action against the Indianapolis Colts of the 2015 AFC Championship Game at Gillette Stadium on January 18, 2015 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) Getty Images

Tom Brady was part of a pregame ceremony honoring past Super Bowl MVPs before the Broncos beat the Panthers in Sunday’s Super Bowl 50 and he’s one of two players who has taken home the award three times in his career.

On top of those postseason exploits, Brady ranks among the all-time leaders in passing yards, touchdowns and most of the other metrics that are widely seen as positive attributes for an NFL quarterback. That didn’t stop the crowd at Levi’s Stadium from booing him, although that seemed to have more to do with the fact that there were a lot of Broncos fans on hand than a judgement that Brady didn’t belong at the ceremony.

Brady might have been OK with that judgement, though. In a interview with Jim Gray of Westwood One before the game, Brady said he “wouldn’t put myself in there” with the best quarterbacks of all time because he thinks he has to work harder than some of the others usually included in that group.

“I have to work my butt off all week and work really hard to get to the game feeling confident with what I am trying to accomplish and get down the field to score some points,” Brady said, via ESPN.com. “I guess for me because I have to work so hard at it and try so hard at it, that’s part of enjoying it for me. But I look at other players and say, ‘Gosh, I wish I could make it look as easy as they make it look.'”

Brady plays the humble card well — the “gosh” is a particularly nice touch — but there are plenty of times that the game looks easy for him and there’s plenty of hard work behind the success of every other great quarterback in the history of the league. The balance of talent to work may vary from quarterback to quarterback, but the results don’t leave much doubt about Brady’s spot among the league’s most accomplished quarterbacks.

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