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‘It Is What It Is’ podcast: Chris Price and Mike Petraglia examine pressing, not-so-pressing needs of Patriots 02.11.16 at 9:21 pm ET
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Chris Price and Mike Petraglia discuss the top priorities for the Patriots as the offseason begins. Who do they need to pursue in free agency, who do they need to keep, and what areas of the roster do they need to address?

Read More: 2016 NFL free agency, Chris Price, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots
Tom Brady arrives at the Super Bowl with Gisele for SB MVP tribute 02.07.16 at 4:43 pm ET
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SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Tom Brady is in the building.

After nearly two weeks of speculation and a confirmation late in the week from Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the Patriots quarterback arrived at Levi’s Stadium for the on-field ceremony to pay tribute to the 43 previous Super Bowl MVP winners just about two hours before kickoff.

He was accompanied by wife Gisele.

As he took the field, he was greeted by a mixture of cheers and boos by the Super Bowl crowd, which was dominated by Broncos fans near the northeast tunnel where he entered.

Read More: Gisele, New England Patriots, Super Bowl 50, Super Bowl MVP
Curtis Martin on Bill Belichick: ‘I didn’t know he would be as great as he is’ 02.06.16 at 2:17 pm ET
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Curtis Martin finished as the 4th leading rusher in NFL history. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

Curtis Martin finished as the 4th leading rusher in NFL history. (Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

SAN FRANCISCO — If Curtis Martin weren’t so loyal to Bill Parcells, he wouldn’t just be a Hall of Fame running back. He’d likely be a Super Bowl champion.

This week at Super Bowl 50, Martin took time to reflect on his days in New England with WEEI.com and recalled the days in the late 90s when he had a chance to stay in New England but chose instead to follow Bill Parcells to the Jets after the 1997 season.

Martin’s first year was in New England in 1995, when he was selected in the third round out of Pittsburgh by Bill Parcells. The first year in New England was great for Martin, finishing as the AFC’s leading rusher with 1,487 yards and 14 touchdowns. But the team was just 6-10 under Parcells. The next season, he continued his dominance with 1,152 yards and 14 rushing touchdowns as the Patriots made it to the Super Bowl before losing to the Packers. That ’96 season, Martin met Bill Belichick, who joined Parcells’ staff as an assistant.

“I remember all the guys that he coached telling me that he was a genius,” Martin said. “He was on the other side of the ball but I always knew that Belichick was going to do something great. But I didn’t know he would be as great as he is, though.”

Martin played just one season for Pete Carroll before leaving as a restricted free agent to join Parcells. Belichick, with the likes of Antowain Smith and Corey Dillon as lead backs, led the Patriots to three Super Bowl titles while Martin was playing for the Jets in the early 2000s.

“I don’t know that it changed. I just think that it continued to evolve,” Martin said of his playing style. “I wouldn’t trade it for anything. I was so against leaving the Patriots because I was loyal to the team. I was willing to take even less money [to stay in New England]. But the fact that it was Parcells made it very appealing to me.

“I’m the type of guy who I’m going to be able to function with whatever coach because I’m a coachable guy. I just think that’s our job. That’s what we get paid to do. But Parcells, he knew how to get out of me what I don’t if any other coach would be able to get out of me.”

“That’s something that I’ve always been proud of because before I came there [the Patriots] along with the Jets were the two teams I never wanted to play for. But Bill Parcells restored some pride to the organization. I just think ever since then, the franchise has just increased from year to year.”

Martin looked at Parcells as a father figure who could get the most out of his extraordinary abilities.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, BNA, Brain Network Activation, Curtis Martin
Ted Johnson has advice for protecting Tom Brady next year: Don’t ‘skimp’ on the offensive line at 12:25 pm ET
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Tom Brady took a beating in the AFC championship. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

Tom Brady took a beating in the AFC championship. (Mark J. Rebilas/USA Today Sports)

SAN FRANCISCO — Former Patriots linebacker Ted Johnson watched like everyone else as Tom Brady was hit some 20 times in the AFC championship, including four sacks.

His main takeaway?

If the Patriots quarterback wants to keep playing at a high level and the Patriots want him as their quarterback, they need to seriously address the offensive line.

The team has already taken one step in addressing the unit with the dismissal of offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo. But Johnson believes reinforcing the unit with some fresh faces through free agency and the draft is necessary as well.

“If Tom wants to play for nine more years like he says, one area you cannot skimp is that offensive line,” Johnson told WEEI.com. “If you’re going to have him as your quarterback for a long time, you’ve got to make sure you keep him upright. In 2014, the season started out 2-2, and I’m getting calls from EEI, ‘What needs to change here for the Patriots to turn this around?’ Protect Tom Brady. Just keep him upright and they went on to win the Super Bowl so that’s the key thing. You’ve got to have an offensive line to protect him if you want him to be your quarterback for the next five-to-seven years.”

Johnson, who works in Houston as a sportsradio talk show host, believes it wasn’t all on the offensive line. He says Broncos defensive coordinator Wade Phillips was the one who made adjustments to make it very hard for Brady to consistently find open receivers.

“I give it up to Wade Phillips, who I’ve been critical of as defensive coordinator of the Texans, the team I cover,” Johnson said. “Wade never changed what he did schematically [in Houston]. He kind of ran the same type of coverages, blitzed a lot and just never changed. I kind of thought that’s what he’d do in this game. If you blitz Tom Brady, and you play a lot of man-to-man, he will eat your lunch. By blitzing him, it makes the reads simpler for Tom and the ball comes out fast.

“So when you have an offensive line that is struggling and you have a lot of backups out there, when the ball comes out fast, it really negates their deficiencies. But what Wade did was only rush three guys, four guys, flooded the zones. Tom’s back there holding the ball, holding the ball, holding the ball. He put a really good game plan together.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Dont'a Hightower, Jamie Collins, New England Patriots
Ted Johnson on Peyton Manning and HGH allegations: ‘I feel bad he has to deal with it. I’m a proponent of [HGH]’ 02.05.16 at 8:14 pm ET
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Ted Johnson is still outspoken on HGH and brain injuries. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Ted Johnson is still outspoken on HGH and brain injuries. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

SAN FRANCISCO — Ted Johnson has made a name for himself after winning three Super Bowls with the Patriots by being outspoken.

He’s at it again.

Speaking to WEEI.com Friday, two days before Super Bowl 50, the linebacker-turned-Houston sportsradio host said that Peyton Manning shouldn’t be dealing with allegations of HGH use, in part because he thinks it should be legal.

“I’m a proponent of HGH,” Johnson said. “I think HGH should be allowed and maybe be regulated. It helps guys recover. There’s so many good things in being able to use HGH for guys that play football because your bodies just get beat up. Now, it’s got to be used within reason and regulated. I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s much to do about nothing.

“I feel bad that he has to deal with that distraction but I’m a proponent of it. Used carefully and regulated, I don’t have a problem with HGH.”

Johnson said he is doing very well for himself now after some very dark days following his football career, which ended after winning his third Super Bowl in Jan. 2005 in Jacksonville.

Johnson told the New York Times in 2007 that he suffers from amphetamine addiction, depression and headaches related to post-concussion syndrome and Second Impact Syndrome. He then suggested Bill Belichick pressured him to participate in full contact practice drills three days after suffering a concussion in an exhibition game against the Giants in Aug. 2002.

Johnson said during those drills, he suffered a second concussion, and that Belichick asked him to participate against the advice of the team’s head trainer. Belichick denied those allegations. Johnson told WEEI’s Dennis and Callahan that he was only joking when he said he’d consider returning to football in 2006 after Junior Seau was injured. Those five years were an emotional roller coaster for Johnson, a ride he admitted again Friday involved Adderall and cocaine.

“A lot of people know my story. I sought out drugs to feel better,” Johnson recounted. “I was having headaches. Cognitively, I wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Behaviorally, I was changing, depression. You have a lot of impulse issues. And so, I sought out drugs to feel better. And the first drug was Adderall. It made me feel better. It was not prescribed for what I was feeling because it’s not a medication used to treat that. But I started using that. It made me feel better. Cognitively, I was sharper. It just cleared things up. My headaches went away.

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Read More: 2016 NFL playoffs, Cerescan, Denver Broncos, HGH
IIWII Super Bowl 50 podcast: Mike Petraglia talks Bill Belichick, Malcolm Butler with HOF’er Mike Haynes at 6:19 pm ET
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SAN FRANCISCO — In this edition of the Super Bowl 50 podcast, WEEI.com’€™s Mike Petraglia caught up with Hall of Fame corner Mike Haynes and asked him what he thinks of Malcolm Butler, Bill Belichick, the loss in Denver and Rob Gronkowski.

Read More: Mike Haynes, Mike Petraglia, New England Patriots, Super Bowl 50
Brandon Stokley overjoyed Peyton Manning beat Patriots to go to Super Bowl: ‘Still got a smile on my face’ 02.04.16 at 7:34 pm ET
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Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick have knocked heads on several occasions. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Peyton Manning and Bill Belichick have knocked heads on several occasions. (Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — There’s clearly no shortage of former NFL players who can’t stand the Patriots.

Former Colts receiver Brandon Stokley, who played with Peyton Manning on the Colts from 2003-06, couldn’t have been more overjoyed that Manning beat the Patriots to get back to his fourth Super Bowl.

“You can’t imagine. He’s like a brother, so happy for him because I know what he’s put in, not only his whole career but this year. I know what he’s been though,” Stokley told WEEI.com Thursday. “I know how hard he’s worked to have a chance to get back out on the field.

“For me, watching him do it against the Patriots a week and a half ago, it didn’t get better than that.”

Why does it mean so much to see the Patriots go down?

“To beat them to go to the Super Bowl, for me, was like watching him win the Super Bowl because I don’t care for the Patriots because I could hardly never beat them. I still dislike them. It was that rivalry, that type of rivalry where I didn’t like then, I don’t like them now. I’ll never like them. So, to see Peyton beat them to go to the Super Bowl put a big smile on my face. I’ve still got a smile on my face from that game.”

Stokley, who is working for Denver’s Channel 7 covering Manning and the Super Bowl, also insists that the report on NFL.com that Manning has told close friends he’s retire “is crap.”

Like Super Bowl loser Brad Hoover of the 2003 Panthers, Stokley’s emotions and recollections of his four-year rivalry with the Patriots in the mid-2000s are still vivid. The Patriots dominated early on, but the Colts won both games in Foxboro in 2005-06 and the memorable AFC championship in Indianapolis in Jan. of 2007.

“Didn’t win a lot. That’s the biggest thing. They always seemed to have our number,” Stokley said. “I know we won one regular season game there and ’06, the AFC championship game. But they were always battles. It really was. You knew that when you played a team like that, you couldn’t make a lot of mistakes.

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Read More: Bill Belichick, Brandon Stokley, Denver Broncos, Indianapolis Colts
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