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Rob Gronkowski: ‘When you win the Super Bowl, it changes lives’ 03.04.15 at 8:14 pm ET
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The Winter of Gronk has been in full swing, but the Patriots tight end took some time to join ESPN Radio’s “SVP and Russillo” show on Wednesday to promote the ESPN Madden Ultimate Team vote.

Gronkowski picked his own Madden team, and his first choice was not much of a surprise in Tom Brady.

“It was pretty cool to pick these teams,” said Gronkowski on the show. “There are so many legendary players out there, it was kind of hard. Sometimes you went with your favorite player who was on your team growing up that you like to watch, but obviously I had to pick my first choice, which is the best QB ever, Tom [Brady].”

The Patriots tight end also reflected on what life has been like since winning the Super Bowl, 28-24 over the Seahawks.

“When you win the Super Bowl, it changes lives,” Gronkowski said. “It’s been very cool, but I was also [part of] a Super Bowl loss, when we lost three years ago. I can tell you this, winning it is a lot, lot different than losing it. It’s been a great time. Pretty awesome.”

The All-Pro said he will always remember the parade through the streets of Boston the following Wednesday after the game.

“I didn’t really know what it was going to be like, what I was really getting myself into. I didn’t know duck boat rides were four miles with thousands and thousands of people [cheering],” Gronkowski said.

He finished the regular season with 82 receptions for 1,124 yards and 12 touchdowns, which was his second-best statistical season of his career. Gronkowski and Brady had a strong connection all season long, with Gronkowski being Brady’s go-to target. He said he and Brady still keep in touch during the offseason, but knows whenever the two meet up it’s all work.

“It’s like a work atmosphere. Call him up, see where he’s at and see if he wants to throw the ball around a little bit,” he said. “Whenever you meet up with Tom, you always know you’re going to be working — at least for an hour or two on the field. You know you can always count on that.”

Over the past month Gronkowski has been enjoying himself — appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, taking a vacation to Florida and most recently a weekend in Vegas.

“It’s been a little crazy, a lot of fun,” said Gronkowski of his time since the Super Bowl. “I’m just enjoying the time, celebrating with my teammates, my family and friends. Basically just enjoying the time off because you go through the grind for seven months straight, so you kind of sit back, relax, have some free time to yourself, so it’s been cool.”

Read More: Rob Gronkowski, Tom Brady,
Jameis Winston plans on winning Super Bowl next year, wants to be viewed with Tom Brady 02.20.15 at 5:49 pm ET
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Speaking at the NFL combine Friday, Jameis Winston said he plans on winning the Super Bowl next year. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Speaking at the NFL combine Friday, Jameis Winston said he plans on winning the Super Bowl next year. (Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

When meeting with the media Friday at the NFL combine, quarterback Jameis Winston certainly didn’t lack confidence.

The Florida State product said he plans on winning the Super Bowl next year and wants to be viewed with Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.

This came up when he was asked if he saw it as a competition between he and Marcus Mariota as to who would be the No. 1 overall pick.

“I’€™m not into no competition type of thing,” Winston told reporters. “I’€™m in it to win games and be the face of someone’€™s franchise. This is no competition between just me and Mariota, because one thing about me, I plan on winning the Super Bowl next year so it’€™s going to be me vs. Peyton Manning and Jameis vs. Tom Brady. I want to be viewed like that.

“After all this combine stuff, you’€™re not going to hear no more about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. I want my name to stay relevant for the next 15 or 20 years of my career.”

Before taking any questions, Winston admitted he’s had some issues in the past and he’s putting them behind him.

“First off, before we start anything, I want to let you all know I know made mistakes and I know I have a past but right now it’€™s about me moving forward and earning the trust of all these 32 teams out there,” Winston said. “And by saying that, I’€™m a competitor and I know what I’€™m capable of doing so I will be throwing [Saturday] at the combine.”

A picture surfaced on the internet this week of Winston working out, which caused some people to question his conditioning and overall shape. Winston isn’t worried about what his critics think.

“A lot of people thought I was fat, but I’€™m here, I’€™m proving everybody wrong,” said Winston. “I look good and I know it.”

Winston won the 2014 National Championship with Florida State before losing to Oregon in the Rose Bowl this past January.

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Read More: 2015 NFL combine, Jameis Winston, Peyton Manning, Tom Brady
Old Tom Brady combine video from 2000 remains amazing 02.16.15 at 12:10 pm ET
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With the combine set for this week, here’s our annual look at Tom Brady, taking part in the 2000 combine at the old RCA Dome in Indianapolis.

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Bill Belichick talks Deflategate, Jonas Gray, Tom Brady with David Letterman 02.12.15 at 12:55 am ET
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Bill Belichick made his second appearance with David Letterman on Wednesday night. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Bill Belichick made his second appearance with David Letterman on Wednesday night. (Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

In his second-ever appearance with David Letterman Wednesday night on CBS, Patriots coach Bill Belichick sat through some good-natured grilling at the hands of the talk show host. Letterman quizzed him about a variety of topics, including Deflategate, what happened to Jonas Gray, and the age of quarterback Tom Brady.

Letterman, an avowed Colts fan, needled Belichick about the scandal involving underinflated footballs, hinting that Belichick knew the real story about the “horseplay” involving the “football nonsense.” Belichick responded with a flat, “No.” Letterman went after him again, and again, the coach responded with a “No.”

Belichick then fired off a quip of his own, saying that the Patriots were going to have Letterman called to testify as part of the Ted Wells report.

“We’re going to bring you in to testify when we get the investigation next month,” Belichick said.

Letterman also asked about running back Jonas Gray, who rushed for 201 yards one week and then found himself on the outs after oversleeping and missing a meeting.

Belichick: “Well, that’s just a big story. You know the media.”

Letterman: “So, the guy didn’t miss a meeting?”

Belichick: “Well …”

Letterman also drew a smile from Belichick when he asked about the age of the 37-year-old quarterback, saying “he’s my age.” Belichick responded with an acknowledgement of Brady, and after Letterman asked about their relationship, Belichick talked about their shared love of golf.

“We played golf last year at Pebble Beach. He gave me a pretty good licking there.”

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Read More: Bill Belichick, David Letterman, Jonas Gray, Tom Brady
Patriots position-by-position breakdown: Quarterback 02.11.15 at 1:38 pm ET
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Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl trophy this year, tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most ever. (Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

Tom Brady won his fourth Super Bowl trophy this year, tying Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw for the most ever. But it certainly wasn’t easy. (Billie Weiss/Getty Images)

With the Patriots done for the season, we’ve got an end-of-the-year position-by-position breakdown of where the Patriots stand. We’ve looked at special teams, wide receivers, running backs and tight ends. Now, it’s the quarterback.

Depth chart: Tom Brady (373-for-582, 64 percent, 4,109 passing yards, 33 touchdowns, 9 interceptions), Jimmy Garoppolo (19-for-27 for 70 percent, 182 yards, 1 touchdown, INT)

Overview: It won’t go down as Brady’s most impressive statistical season, but considering the highs and lows he rode over the course of the year, it’s easily his most satisfying. The quarterback started slowly, trying to gain some traction behind an ineffective offensive line and with his No. 1 option in the passing game working his way back from a season-ending knee injury the year before. He appeared to flatline in an ugly Monday night loss to the Chiefs where ESPN openly speculated about his overall fitness and the state of the franchise. In those first four games, he ended up with a 59 percent completion rate, and averaged just under 200 passing yards and one touchdown per game.

While the jumping off point for the 2014 season for the team came in the late stages of the Kansas City loss, Brady’s resurgence came the week after in a thunderous win over the Bengals, which sparked an emotional postgame reaction from Rob Gronkowski “I told my brother before I came to the game, “I’m going to make 12 look like Tom Brady again, baby,'” Gronkowski said with a smile after the Bengals game. “And I went out there with my teammates and we made Tom Brady look like Tom Brady — after you guys were criticizing him all week.” The six-game gauntlet of division leaders and other powerhouses that was supposed to sink Brady and the Patriots? It turned out to the crucible that forged a champion. Along the way, the quarterback had a wildly impressive four-game stretch where he completed 69 percent of his passes and averaged 317 yards and almost four touchdowns and no picks per contest.

While Brady leveled out a bit in late November and into December, he crested again when the postseason came around, with an impressive performance in the divisional playoffs against the Ravens (33-for-50 for 367 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT), an outing made all the more impressive by the fact that the Patriots only ran the ball 13 times that night. He let the running game do the heavy lifting in the AFC title contest against the Colts. After being buffeted by allegations of cheating for most of the two-week run-up to the Super Bowl, the quarterback was able to rise above down the stretch against the Seahawks, throwing a pair of fourth-quarter touchdown passes to lift the franchise to another title, and allow him to come away with his third Super Bowl MVP award.

Going forward, it would be hard for anyone to replicate the crazy arc of the 2014 season, let alone the quarterback, who enjoyed a unique happenstance of events (health, good timing and a steady and consistent supporting cast) to pave the way for a fourth Super Bowl ring. In the end, the biggest takeaway from the year as it relates to the quarterback was the fact that whole he’s not the twentysomething Tom Brady that won three titles in four years at the dawn of his career, when it counts, he’s certainly capable of being Tom Brady again.

Best moment: There were plenty to choose from over the course of the season, and while there were others that were probably aesthetically more impressive (30-for-35, 354 yards, 5 TDs, 0 INTS vs. Chicago), it’s hard to top what he was able to do in the Super Bowl. Against the best pass defense in the league the last two years, Brady was able to deliver death by a thousand cuts to the Seahawks, nibbling at the Seattle defense a handful of yards at a time on the way to finishing 37-for-50 for 328 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions. Along the way, he broke Joe Montana‘s record for most touchdown passes thrown in a Super Bowl.

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Read More: position-by-position breakdown, Tom Brady,
Malcolm Butler now owns Tom Brady’s Super Bowl MVP Chevy truck 02.10.15 at 5:51 pm ET
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Undoubtedly the best week of Malcolm Butler’s life continued to get even better on Tuesday.

After Tom Brady said last week on Dennis & Callahan that he wanted to give his Chevy truck for winning the Super Bowl MVP to Butler, it became a reality on Tuesday afternoon. The undrafted rookie cornerback got his truck at the Clay Chevrolet in Norwood.

Brady picked up his third career Super Bowl MVP in the Patriots’ 28-24 win over the Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX.

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Read More: Malcolm Butler, Super Bowl XLIX, Tom Brady,
Patriots’ improvement on third down helped pave way to Super Bowl title 02.09.15 at 6:00 am ET
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Rob Ninkovich, and the Patriots' third-down defense played a major part in their Super Bowl title run. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Rob Ninkovich, and the Patriots’ third-down defense played a major part in their Super Bowl title run. (Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

“We have to get off the field, that’€™s huge. Some of the third-and-long situations we weren’t able to get off the field. I know third-and-long screens hurt us, too. Specifically that play and third and long as a whole, we need to do a better job. Obviously everything is working together, so coverage-rush, rush-coverage, everything works together. That’€™s just one area we definitely need to work on this year.” Rob Ninkovich, July 23, 2014 — the first day of training camp and media availability of the season

It was evident the Patriots defense needed to improve on third down, as dating back to the 2010 season there hadn’t been a year in which the Patriots finished higher than 20th in the league in third-down defense.

In 2013 the unit got off the field 42.7 percent of the time, 25th in the league, and 2010 was the worst season of all, as New England allowed opponents a success rate of 47.1 percent, dead last among all 32 defenses in the league.

This season was a huge improvement as the Patriots finished 16th in the NFL, getting off the field on third down 40 percent of the time, but it was in the postseason when the group took things to another level and helped lead the way to the fourth Super Bowl title in the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

In the three postseason games, the Patriots defense held opponents to just 7-for-30 (23.3 percent) on third down, including holding the Seahawks to 3-for-10 in Super Bowl XLIX.

One of the keys to getting to the Super Bowl was the Patriots’ come-from-behind win over the Ravens in the divisional round where they came back from two 14-point deficits. It was on the Ravens’ drive before Brandon LaFell’s game-winning touchdown catch late in the fourth quarter where Baltimore got inside the red zone, having first-and-goal from the 9-yard line and the game tied at 28.

The Patriots defense stepped up, including a huge Patrick Chung deflection on third down in the end zone on a pass intended for tight end Owen Daniels, which forced a Justin Tucker field goal giving the Ravens a three-point lead, instead of what could have been seven.

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Read More: Danny Amendola, Julian Edelman, Rob Ninkovich, Super Bowl XLIX
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