Brady-Manning: The changing face of a rivalry

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Brady-Manning: The changing face of a rivalry

It was billed as the latest, if not potentially the last chapter in one of the NFLs most storied rivalries, but Brady-Manning XIII never quite lived up to the hype.

In retrospect, maybe that hype was unrealistic. Maybe it was unfair to expect the two oldest starting quarterbacks in the NFL to shrug off every extenuating circumstance and deliver a duel for the ages. But come on, lets be honest: It doesnt matter how old they are or which teams they play for, when Tom Brady and Peyton Manning get together, theres no cap on expectations. Fifty years from now, they could be in their eighties, playing ping-pong at Del Boca Vista, and well still expect an overtime thriller. (And if not, theyll get buried by the Boca Breeze.)

But while there is, and always will be, an urge to throw out reality when these two Hall of Famers face off, yesterdays takeaway was about as real as it comes.

First of all, Peyton Mannings still a damn good quarterback. Regardless of the score, youre never comfortable when No. 18s on the other side. But that being said, hes not the same Peyton Manning not yet, maybe not ever. And more importantly, Eric Decker isnt Marvin Harrison. Demaryius Thomas isnt Reggie Wayne. Willis McGahee isnt Edgerinn James or Joseph Addai. Joel Dreesen isnt Dallas Clark. In 2012, Mannings an aging craftsman with duller tools, and for as long as hes in Denver, hell fight an uphill battle to keep pace with own legacy.

When it comes to Brady, for the second straight week, were reminded that hes no longer New Englands only option. While Mannings taken a step back with his supporting cast, Bradys has expanded. The Pats no longer live and die by his arm, and not because they dont want to, but because they dont need to.

Yesterday, Brady threw for 223 yards and one touchdown in New Englands 31-21 win. There were days in the not so recent past when the Pats needed numbers like that every quarter to be as good as they needed to be. And while there will still be plenty of weeks when Brady lights it up, the Pats can and will survive when he doesnt.

The Broncos picked up Mannings Indy offense and planted it, as is, at Sports Authority Field. The Patriots have revolutionized their attack behind Brady. And for fans in New England, this is beyond exciting. Of course, there are still places where this team needs to improve most notably in the secondary but in terms of offense, the future is finally coming into focus. The future is now. For so long, weve fearfully asked the questions: What happens when Brady gets older? How much longer can they put it all on his shoulders? How will they survive this next stage of his career?

Now we know. The next stage is here. And as Josh McDaniels continues to get more comfortable with what he has, and the team continues to build confidence in who they are, it will only get better. In the last three games, without their most versatile offensive player, the Patriots scored 113 points. Of those, less than half came from Tom Brady touchdowns passes. This is great for New England.

But it doesn't do much for the Brady-Manning rivalry.

Once the two undisputed leaders of the NFL's two model franchises, Manning and Brady head down the stretch in two very different places. With Manning's Broncos still living in 2006, and Brady's Pats already with an eye on 2016. Truth be told, it's no longer fair to compare them to what they once were. The game has changed; everything's changed.

But who am I kidding? We'll throw all that out the window for the inevitable Brady-Manning XIV. Coming soon, to an NFL Playoffs near you.

Rich can be reached at rlevine@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Rich on Twitter at http:twitter.comrich_levine

Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

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Affleck offers passionate Brady defense when asked about Deflategate

When the topic of Deflategate was broached on HBO's Any Given Wednesday with Bill Simmons, which debuted this week, Ben Affleck became all kinds of fired up.

"What they did was suspend Tom Brady for four days for not giving them his [expletive] cellphone," Affleck said. "I would never give an organization as leak-prone as the NFL my [expletive] cellphone . . . so you can just look through my emails and listen to my voicemails?"

Affleck grew up in Cambridge, Mass. and is a passionate Patriots fan. He made no attempts to hide his fandom, and his appreciation for Brady, as he and Simmons (also a Patriots fan) discussed the football-deflation controversy that has now lasted well over a year. 

Affleck, who said he would want to cast himself as Brady if ever a Deflategate movie was made, harped on the fact that the league wanted Brady to turn over his phone. 

"Maybe Tom Brady is so [expletive] classy and such a [expletive] gentleman," Affleck said, "that he doesn’t want people to know that he may have reflected on his real opinion on some of his co-workers."

Brady is waiting for the Second Circuit to make a decision as to whether or not it will rehear his case against the NFL. Earlier this offseason, the Second Circuit reinstated Brady's four-game suspension issued by the league when a three-judge panel ruled in favor of the NFL, 2-1. 

Pro Football Talk wrote on Thursday that a decision from the Second Circuit could come at any time. If the rehearding request is denied, Brady could then take the case to the Supreme Court. Should the Second Circuit grant Brady a rehearing, his suspension would be delaed until the court reached a decision. In that case, Brady could potentially play the entire 2016 season before a decision came to pass. 

Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

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Brady posts high school essay to Facebook on living in his sisters' shadow

Tom Brady wasn't always the most famous person in his family. Growing up, his sisters were the accomplished athletes in the household. 

For his latest Throwback Thursday style Facebook post, Brady published a pair of photos of an old high school essay that he wrote in the fall of his senior year in 1994. It was titled "The way my sisters influenced me."

I found an essay I wrote in 1994... I love my big sisters! #tbt. Thanks for the good grade Mr Stark!

Posted by Tom Brady on Thursday, June 23, 2016

In it, he discusses some of the difficulties of growing up with three older sisters and no brothers. Because Maureen, Julie and Nancy Brady had achieved so much in softball, basketball and soccer, Brady -- or "Tommy," as he signed his paper -- had trouble getting noticed. 

Of course, it wouldn't be long before Brady was headed from San Mateo, California to Ann Arbor, Michigan in order to play football for the Wolverines. He probably had no trouble garnering attention by then. Still, it's funny to read about how he felt overlooked in his youth. 

He closed the essay explaining that he knew his sisters would always provide him support throughout his life, adding, "hopefully, just maybe, one day people will walk up to them and say, 'Aren't you Tommy's sister?' or 'Hey where is your brother?' Maybe . . . "

If the Brady sisters didn't get those kinds of comments by the time the baby of the family was given an 'A' for his English assignment, it probably didn't take long before they did. About seven years later, he took over as the starting quarterback of the Patriots.