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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady unanimous winner of NFL MVP 02.06.11 at 12:45 pm ET
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Patriots quarterback Tom Brady was named the unanimous winner of the Associated Press MVP for the 2010 season on Sunday afternoon. It’€™s the first unanimous selection, and second MVP honor of Brady’€™s career.

Brady finished the season with 3,900 passing yards and led the NFL with 36 touchdown passes and only four interceptions. He also finished the regular season with a streak of 335 straight pass attempts without an interception to set an NFL record, and went 11 straight starts without an interception.

“It is always flattering to be chosen for such a prestigious award,” Brady told the Associated Press. “But I also look at it as a team award, as nothing in football gets accomplished without the mental toughness and determination of every player and coach associated with that team.

“I am very humbled to be a part of an organization where winning comes first, and our goals are based around the success of the team.”

Overall, Brady led the NFL in 2010 with a 111.0 passer rating, the second time in his career that he finished the season with a passer rating over 100. The 111.0 passer rating is the fifth best all-time. Brady also set an NFL record by throwing at least two touchdowns without an interception in each of the final nine games of the year, and had at least one touchdown in all 16 regular-season games.

“I feel our team really grew together over the course of the season. It was a privilege to be a part of this team,” Brady said, according to The Associated Press. “My only disappointment is that we couldn’t take advantage of our opportunity in the playoffs, but hopefully we learn from that and use it as motivation toward accomplishing our goals for next season.”

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Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty finishes second in NFL DROY voting to Suh 02.04.11 at 8:16 pm ET
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Patriots cornerback Devin McCourty finished a distant second to Detroit defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh in the voting for NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year voting on Friday.

There’€™s no shame, however. At least McCourty got a vote ‘€” in fact, McCourty, who finished the season with seven interceptions, was the only defensive rookie other than Suh to receive a single tally ‘€” in fact the defensive back got two. Meanwhile, Suh nabbed 48 of the 50 votes, becoming the first Lion to grab the honor since Al Baker in 1978.

As for McCourty, he started all 16 games for the Patriots and finished the season with 82 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and 17 passes defensed. He tied for second in the NFL and led all rookies with seven interceptions on the season, recording four of them over three consecutive games (Weeks 11-13). The seven interceptions by a Patriots rookie are second only to the eight by Mike Haynes in 1976. In addition, he was named second-team All-Pro by the Associated Press.

‘€œDevin’€™s really been a consistent player for us all year, from the first rookie minicamp after the draft to all through the season,’€ Patriots coach Bill Belichick said late in the 2010 season. ‘€œIn the spring, spring workouts, training camp, preseason, he’€™s really the same guy every day ‘€” very alert, attentive, very professional. You wouldn’€™t know he’€™s a rookie. He acts and prepares like he’€™s been doing it for five or six years.

‘€œHe’€™s very attentive. He understands a lot of little things. When you give him a coaching point, he understands that it doesn’€™t apply to everything (and) it may only apply to one particular situation or one little thing. But when that comes up again, he’€™s usually on it. He’€™s made a lot of improvement.’€

Read More: Al Baker, Bill Belichick, Devin McCourty, Mike Haynes
Robert Kraft: A deal between owners and players can be done in next week 02.04.11 at 3:52 pm ET
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Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said Friday sounded an optimistic note about the uncertain labor situation on Friday, saying ‘€œa deal can get done in the next week.’€

In an interview with the NFL Network, Kraft made it very clear who he believed was holding up a potential deal between the owners and the players.

‘€œIn my opinion, we could get a deal done in the next week if business people sat down on both sides and we tried to get the lawyers in the background,’€ Kraft said. ‘€œYou just had a situation where we were sued that we didn’€™t get enough money from the networks. I know as chair of the Broadcast Committee, I’€™ve worked with our committee and the Commissioner, and we generated revenue at a very serious time in our country.

‘€œWe were just sued that we didn’€™t do a good enough job, so the players wind up paying $15 million in legal fees for something that is nonsensical. We have to stop this legal maneuvering and get business negotiations going on. If we do, I’€™m confident we can close a deal.’€

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Uncertainty around franchise tag could create confusion for Logan Mankins and Patriots 02.04.11 at 12:25 am ET
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The fact that the NFL and the National Football League Players Association are disagreeing about the state of the franchise tag throws another wrinkle into the already complicated situation between the Patriots and Pro Bowl offensive lineman Logan Manikins.

Last week, a league spokesman indicated the franchise tags would remain status quo ‘€” that is, starting Feb. 10 and running until Feb. 24, clubs could continue to place the tag on players whose contracts are expiring, even if there is no new collective bargaining agreement in place. But on Thursday, the NFLPA indicated that if there is no new agreement in place between now and the day the old CBA expires ‘€” March 3 ‘€” such tags would be meaningless.

‘€œOur position is that you can franchise anyone you want, by whatever date you want, but if there is no CBA, the franchise tags will be meaningless,’€ NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith told reporters.

‘€œThe current CBA provides that ‘each club shall be permitted to designate one of its players who would otherwise be an Unrestricted Free Agent [or Restricted Free Agent] as a Franchise Player each season during the term of this Agreement,”€ Smith wrote in a memo to player agents, obtained by ‘€œThe 2011 season is not a ‘season during the term of this Agreement’ so the NFL has no valid basis for claiming the right to franchise players in 2011.’€

In response, league spokesman Greg Aiello said via e-mail to The Associated Press: ‘€œWe are still operating under the current agreement. … Franchise tags are always made before the start of the next league year. This is consistent with past seasons.’€

In its current form, the franchise tag allows each team to prevent one of its players from becoming an unrestricted free agent by offering him a one-year contract that’s worth 120 percent of his salary from the season before, or the average of the five highest-paid players at his position, whichever is greater.

However, the players association isn’€™t thrilled about what the tag has become ‘€” in many ways they see it as a way to prevent players from reaching a big payday ‘€” and while it isn’€™t considered chief among the differences between the two sides, it has been a point of contention between the players and the owners in the past.

Mankins and the Patriots aren’€™t the only team facing uncertainty around the franchise tag, as several big-name players across the league are facing an uncertain future because of the franchise tag situation. Philadelphia’€™s Michael Vick, Indy’€™s Peyton Manning, Pittsburgh’€™s Lamarr Woodley and Baltimore’€™s Haloti Ngata are all candidates to be franchised under the old system, but could theoretically hit the open market if the tag is eliminated.
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Read More: Adam Vinatieri, Al Davis, De Maurice Smith, Frank Bauer
Player survey reveals Gillette Stadium is seventh-best artificual surface in NFL 02.03.11 at 8:26 pm ET
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In a survey conducted by the National Football League Players Association, the Gillette Stadium playing surface was ranked seventh among the league’s 13 fields that are classified as “artificial infilled.” Among the non-grass surfaces, Gillette trailed Lucas Oil Stadium (first), New Meadowlands Stadium (second), Louisiana Superdome (third), Seattle’s Qwest Field (fourth), Cowboys Stadium (fifth) and the Georgia Dome (sixth). The survey also listed Gillette as the ninth-worst “artificial infilled” venue, with Minnesota’s Metrodome, Buffalo’s Ralph Wilson Stadium and the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis leading the way.

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Patriots offensive line takes home ‘Madden’ award 02.03.11 at 7:29 pm ET
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The Patriots offensive line was named the winners of the annual “Madden Most Valuable Protectors” award on Thursday. New England came out on top of a group of lines that included fellow finalists Kansas City, New York Giants, Atlanta and New Orleans, a collection that was chosen by John Madden. The winner was then chosen after fan voting on Dan Koppen, Dan Connolly and Mark LeVoir were on hand in Dallas to accept the award.

Read More: Dan Connolly, Dan Koppen, John Madden, mark levoir
Packers say their season started to turn around with loss to the Patriots 02.02.11 at 11:15 pm ET
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When it came to the 2010 Packers, the turning point in their season came on the night of Dec. 19 at Gillette Stadium.

Green Bay was coming off an ugly loss to the Lions, a defeat that saw starting quarterback Aaron Rodgers get knocked out of the game with a concussion, his second of the season. The Packers also had several players limited in practice over the course of the week, a group that included linebacker Clay Matthews and cornerback Charles Woodson. Rodgers was ruled out late in the week, and an already struggling Green Bay team was given little chance at winning.

But even at less than their best ‘€” including a botched sequence late in the game that prevented them from what might have been an attempt at a game-winning touchdown ‘€” the Packers hung tough and nearly matched the Patriots. Without Rodgers, Green Bay pushed New England to the limit, but eventually fell 31-27, a loss that dropped them to 8-6 on the season.

In a game that will be remembered around New England as the night Dan Connolly delivered one of the most memorable kick returns in franchise history, for the Packers, the contest was a tribute to their depth. Green Bay ‘€” which eventually landed 16 players on injured reserve over the course of the season ‘€” got 251 yards passing from backup quarterback Matt Flynn, while other players also stepped up and made big plays at key times in the contest.

While the phrase ‘€œmoral victory’€ is tough for players to stomach when it comes to explaining away late-season losses, the defeat to the Patriots galvanized the Packers, and showed them what they were truly capable of. If they could go on the road and almost knock off New England with a backup quarterback, well, there’€™s no telling what they could accomplish.

‘€œYou don’€™t win games off of moral victories, but you can take a lot away from them. What we took from that game was we have a lot of guys who are going to step up and fight despite of who’€™s playing,’€ Green Bay wide receiver Greg Jennings said Wednesday when asked about the December loss to the Patriots. ‘€œThat is why we are here today ‘€” because of guys being able to step up and fill voids.
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Read More: aaron rodgers, Charles Woodson, Clay matthews, Greg Jennings
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