No regrets for Manning on Brady comparison

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No regrets for Manning on Brady comparison

FOXBORO -- He had to know it was coming.

When Eli Manning was scheduled for a conference call with New England media, he must have expected a question about this summer's quarterback comments. You remember -- the Brady stuff.

"The question was if I thought I was an elite quarterback and basically I was just saying that I did," Manning said Wednesday. "I'm usually not in to the business of ranking and rating quarterbacks, or comparing myself to the other guys, but I just . . . Looking back, I thought I gave an honest answer and I don't regret anything."

Why should he? In Manning's August interview on the Michael Kay Show, he was effusively complimentary of Brady. The point was, New England's quarterback has only gotten better since he won three Super Bowls and Manning thinks he has the same potential. Hardly scandalous.

But Manning grouping himself with elite QB's inspired a frenzy of indignation. Yes, he beat the Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. Yes, that performance earned him MVP honors. Yes, his current 102.1 passer rating is the best of his career. But, Brady? Many football writers and fans scoffed at the idea.

Manning didn't listen.

"I just didn't worry about it," he said. "It caught a lot of attention. After doing the interview, you kind of think back to see if you said anything that might cause attention. I didn't think that would be a big deal. I think there were circumstances where not a whole lot was going on in sports at the time, just some training camps and no games yet. So I think sometimes it's just depending on the timing of things that they have to have something to talk about in the sports world."

Fair point.

And a smart strategy. Want to make a statement? Do it on the field. Manning ignored those trying to put a ceiling on his ambition and look at him now: The NFL's No. 3 passer rating, a career-best 64.7-percent completion rate, and better control on interceptions (just five so far). He's not better than Brady, but he's not trying to crowd in on the same pedestal. Manning wants his own pedestal on the same level.

It's only natural.

"I think, as any player in the league, you always feel confident in your ability. Whether you just played a great game or you just played a poor game, you feel the next week you're going to go out and play great and make every throw and win games -- put your team in situations to win games. So I think that's the attitude that most athletes have."

Figuratively, he can put his money where his mouth is Sunday at Gillette. Brady versus Manning. Shootout starts at 4:15.

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

Kraft, Pats still bitter: NFL 'really messed this up badly'

It's been almost two years exactly since the Deflategate saga began during the AFC title game between the Colts and Patriots on Jan. 18, 2015.

Since then, Robert Kraft has expressed his displeasure at how the whole thing was handled by the league -- particularly as it relates to the treatment of quarterback Tom Brady -- on multiple occasions. And according to a story in the New York Times, that feeling hasn't subsided.

"Sometimes, the league really messes up, and I think they really messed this up badly," said Kraft . "But we’ve all agreed to subjugate our right to disrupt everything.

"I mean, we can, but we’re a partnership. There’s jealousy, there’s envy, there’s stupidity. Sometimes, life is unfair, and you have to suck it up and move on and not use it as an excuse."

Brady served his four-game suspension to start this season, and Kraft opted to accept the league's punishment for the team following the 2014 season: They were docked two draft picks (a first and a fourth) and fined $1 million.

The piece includes Kraft's thoughts on President-elect Donald Trump ("Loyalty is important to me, and he has been a wonderful friend," Kraft said), as well as comments from others on how Kraft has handled his situation ("I think Bob has exhibited disagreement, but he’s also very capable of making and influencing change," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said). 

You can read the full piece here.

Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

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Bell excused from Steelers practice for 'personal reasons'

FOXBORO -- The Patriots have had perfect attendance at each of their last two practices. The Steelers, on the other hand, have been working with less than a full deck.

All-Pro running back Le'Veon Bell has been conspiculously absent from Pittsburgh's practices each of the last two days. On Wednesday, he was listed on the injury report as a non-participant due to non-injury related reasons. On Thursday, coach Mike Tomlin announced that Bell had been excused from practice due to "personal reasons."

Tomlin added that Bell will be ready to go against the Patriots on Sunday so it seems as though the team is painting this as a nothing-to-see-here situation. And it probably is. Whether or not Bell practices at all this week won't necessarily have any bearing on the AFC title game; if he's healthy, he'll be a factor. 

If for some reason he doesn't follow up his 170-yard performance against the Chiefs with another strong game, however, people will wonder how his preparation was impacted by missing out on the first two of his team's on-the-field sessions this week.