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ESPN showers praise on Pats

06.25.09 at 11:38 am ET
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It was a clean sweep for the Patriots Thursday morning: ESPN.com named them the team of the decade, Tom Brady as the all-decade MVP and Bill Belichick as its all-decade coach.

The honors were bestowed with consultation from NFL general managers, coaches, scouts and players.

“You have to recognize championships because, ultimately, that’s what we’re playing for,” Belichick said when informed of ESPN.com’s selections.

Belichick captured the honor for leading the Patriots to three Super Bowls wins and four AFC championships, and at least tying for the AFC East’s best record each year since 2001. ESPN.com’s Tim Graham had a chance to catch up with Belichick, who asked him about being mentioned in the same breath as other “all-decade” coaches like Weeb Ewbank, Don Shula, Bill Parcells and Bill Walsh.

“It’s certainly flattering to be mentioned in the same breath as those guys, but honestly I don’t sit around and think about it a lot,” Belichick told Graham. “We’re so in the moment. We always have another bridge to cross.

“But I’m certainly proud of what our teams have done, proud to have been a part of them. I understand that it’s not run-of-the-mill. We’ve had some great moments in this franchise. I’ve been pretty fortunate.”

According to Graham, other candidates for coach of the decade included Tony Dungy and Bill Cowher. Belichick’s 102-42 record in the regular-season this decade (good for a .708 winning percentage) actually falls short of Dungy, who won two more games this decade for a .722 win percentage, while Cowher had a .647 win percentage.

But in the end, Belichick’s three championships (as opposed to the one each from Cowher and Dungy) were more than enough to tilt the scales in his’s favor.

“It’s definitely an honor when you consider the other great people that are involved in that, Coach Cowher, Coach Shanahan, Coach Dungy, a lot of great coaches there,” Belichick told Graham. “It’s certainly an honor to be placed among the coaches of that time.”

As for Brady, he beat out Indianapolis quarterback Peyton Manning and San Diego running back LaDainian Tomlinson for all-decade honors. Miami defensive end Jason Taylor — a good friend of Brady — wasn’t surprised.

“The guy’s just a winner,” Taylor told Graham. “He knows how to win, period.

“He’s got the talent. But everybody at this level has talent. … Maybe he does have a little more God-given ability than some others, but between the ears he’s as good as they come.”

Read More: Bill Belichick, ESPN, Tom Brady,
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