Brady first unanimous NFL MVP selection

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Brady first unanimous NFL MVP selection

Associated Press
DALLAS -- Here's a Brady Bunch for NFL fans: Tom Brady got all 50 votes for MVP.The New England Patriots quarterbackon Sunday became the first unanimous choice for The Associated PressNFL Most Valuable Player Award since the AP began using a nationwidepanel of media members who cover the league.He surpassed himself, too: In 2007, when Brady won his first MVP, he got 49 votes; one voter went for Brett Favre."It is always flattering to be chosenfor such a prestigious award," Brady said. "But I also look at it as ateam award, as nothing in football gets accomplished without the mentaltoughness and determination of every player and coach associated withthat team."I am very humbled to be a part of anorganization where winning comes first, and our goals are based aroundthe success of the team."Those successes, including three Super Bowl titles in the last 10 years, are in great part due to Brady's excellence.Although he didn't set nearly as manypassing marks as in '07, Brady by far was the league's top performer inleading New England to a 14-2 record, best in the NFL. He had a recordstreak of 355 throws without being intercepted, and passed for 36touchdowns with only four picks.Not that the 33-year-old Brady would compare this season's Patriots to any others."Every team every year is different,"he said, "and over the course of 100 practices and many games a teamestablishes its identity. Players change, schemes change, opponentschange, which is why the game is so exciting year in and year out."The fact that 32 teams start outeach year with the same goal is why the popularity of the sport is atan all-time high. The great part about our sport is that nothing comeseasy, and wherever you stand at the end of the year is the exact placethat you deserve to be."Individually, Brady stands above allothers. The only Patriot to win the award, he and Peyton Manning, hisrival for the NFL's best quarterback, have split the last four MVPs.Brady followed his previous MVPtrophy with a lost season, tearing left knee ligaments in the firsthalf of the 2008 opener. His return in 2009 was solid, although handand rib injuries slowed him.This year, even with a sore rightfoot that required postseason surgery, Brady was simply dynamic. Hetwice threw for four touchdowns in a game and four times had three.Twelve times, he had a passer rating of at least 100.And he guided a young team in transition to 14 victories."Brady is so special because he'ssuch a great leader and all the players can relate to him," team ownerRobert Kraft said. "These kids (rookies) who come in live in awe ofhim, but the nice thing is he treats them well."He works very hard, he studies veryhard," Kraft added. "Being a great quarterback isn't just being veryskilled. It's being able to process information quickly, to make theadjustments, and I think he's fabulous at that."As fabulous as he might have been, Brady, not surprisingly, has some regrets about 2010."When the season is over, 31 teamsare disappointed about the outcome," he said. "There is only onechampion, and nobody plays this game for second place. The desire andhunger is about winning, which to me never gets old. The motivation toget up and work every day for that goal is something that challenges usall."Our team has very highexpectations, and our team will come back this year with the samepurpose," he said. "Whether or not that leads to a championship seasonwill be determined by the commitment each player makes to do their jobas best as they possibly can."The way Brady does.

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

Collins' new contract may influence Patriots' negotiations with Hightower

FOXBORO -- Jamie Collins and the Cleveland Browns are reportedly closing in on a contract that will turn the ex-Pat's place of exile into his long-term place of work. 

That's interesting in itself. The Browns must have made it clear to Collins he was getting franchised, otherwise you'd think Collins would want to get out there and test the market for at least a couple of days when free agency rolled around. 

It will also be interesting for Collins' former teammate in New England, Dont'a Hightower. While the Patriots aren't going to let the Browns dictate their market and offers when it comes to negotiating with Hightower, Collins' contract will be a useful comp for Hightower. 

Whatever Collins gets, Hightower can make the case for a fair amount more. Hightower is the centerpiece of the Patriots defense, a run-stopper, blitzer, leader and tone-setter. From the jersey number (Tedy Bruschi's old number 54) they encouraged him to wear, to selecting him captain, the team and Hightower's teammates have stated how important he is to the club. 

Hightower on the open market would be in line for a contract in the $10 million-per-year range, with a total value of around $50 million (using Luke Kuechly, Navarro Bowman, Bobby Wagner and Lawrence Timmons as comparable players). The Patriots can franchise Hightower just as easily as the Browns could have franchised Collins. The sticking point for the player is that he doesn't realize the windfall of guaranteed money that comes with a long-term deal. The injury Sword of Damocles dangles every day. 

In other words, Collins' influence on the Patriots isn't done yet. 

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

Report: Chip Kelly was scheduled to meet with Bill Belichick recently

FOXBORO -- Might Chip Kelly be working for the Patriots at some point in the near future? One report calls New England a "logical" landing spot for the former Eagles and 49ers head coach. 

According to ESPN's Chris Mortensen, Kelly "was headed to New England to meet with [Bill] Belichick" once he found out that he was no longer in the running for the offensive coordinator job in Jacksonville. 

Kelly was fired by the 49ers after one season as head coach and has been interested in continuing his career as an NFL coach, per Mortensen. Kelly coached the Eagles for three seasons, going 26-21.

Belichick openly threw his support behind Kelly after he was let go by Philadelphia on New Year's Eve in 2015.

"I would say it's actually disappointing," Belichick said at the time. "Chip Kelly to me is a really good football coach. He does a great job. I think he's done a good job with that team. It's disappointing to see . . . Pretty much everybody's on a one-year contract in this league. I don't know how you build a program in one year. 

"Chip's a great coach. He'll end up somehwere and he'll do a great job there. I'd say a lot of the players that were on the Eagles that are no longer on the Eagles aren't really doing too much for anybody else, either."

Mortensen opines that the Belichick-Kelly connection would make sense because of their tight bond. 

"The friendship between Kelly and [Belichick] is no secret," Mortensen wrote. "They have exchanged football concepts since Kelly's fast-tempo offense became the rage at Oregon."

Per Mortensen, Kelly was considered an asset by executive vice president of football operations Tom Coughlin, and he was in the running for a job there, yet new coach Doug Marrone saw Kelly as a bad "philosophical fit." 

Apparently that led to Kelly's planned visit here. 

There is history of the Patriots hiring friendly faces during the postseason. In 2012, Belichick re-hired Josh McDaniels to work with then offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien, who was set to take over Penn State's program after the season. McDaniels -- who had been the offensive coordinator for the Rams earlier that year -- re-claimed his role as offensive coordinator in New England the following season and has been in-house ever since. 

Kelly has no experience as one of Belichick's employees -- McDaniels, of course, rose through the coaching ranks in New England before being hired as head coach in Denver in 2009 -- but perhaps he is a candidate to fulfill a role similar to the one McDaniels was given before Super Bowl XLVI.