Patriots author miracle, free agency power rankings and more

The world witnessed one of the greatest athletic events ever played, with the New England Patriots winning another championship.

Hate them all you want. Hate the Patriots because they win more than your team. Hate them because their five-time Super Bowl champion of a quarterback is married to a supermodel richer than he is. Hate them because the head coach is a soulless human being who cuts the sleeves off his sweatshirts.

Hate them all you want, but recognize the greatness we are all bearing witness to.

New England had no right winning Super Bowl LI. The Patriots were trailing 28-3 midway through the third quarter, with Tom Brady playing poorly and the offensive line resembling a sieve. The defense was getting gashed for more than six yards per carry, and Matt Ryan was throwing an average of one incompletion per quarter while averaging more than 12 yards per attempt.

The Patriots were dead and buried, finally seeing their dynasty put to rest. Then, approximately an hour later, they were champions again, celebrating their fifth title in the Bill Belichick era.

For the 39-year-old Brady, this could well be the ultimate Coup de Grace in a career defined by great play on the biggest stage. Even with his seemingly limitless play, even Brady will slow down sooner rather than later. At some point, perhaps this point, Brady will have won his last championship.

All told, Brady set Super Bowl records for 62 attempts and 466 passing yards. It was the quintessential example of a great player putting his team on the proverbial back, leading them to victory in the most incredible of ways. The Atlanta Falcons are  terrific team that would have beaten any other football team, and any other quarterback, on the planet Sunday night. They simply made too many errors to the best ones to ever exist, and paid dearly for it.

Depending on where you live, Super Bowl LI will be remembered as a complete choke job by the team that should have won, or the epic example of why the team that did win is dynastic. Regardless of your personal geography, it’s inarguable that New England and Brady are something out of legend, born into life by the perfect marriage of coach, quarterback and owner.

In the aftermath of one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played, the two involved franchises will travel far different paths. Atlanta will be left without a trophy in its showcase, always left to wonder just what the hell happened. New England will have another parade, the 10th the city of Boston had enjoyed since the turn of the century.

For Matt Ryan, he will forever be judged by a catastrophic ending that in large part, wasn’t his fault. For Tom Brady and his teammates, the final moments of Super Bowl LI will further carve a legacy into stone, one that will be talked about for generations to come.

Hate them all you want. The Patriots, and their quarterback, are the best there ever was.

Power rankings

Top 15 free agents from 2016 playoff teams

1. Le’Veon Bell, RB, Pittsburgh Steelers
2. Eric Berry, SS, Kansas City Chiefs
3. A.J. Bouye, CB, Houston Texans
4. Dont’a Hightower, ILB, New England Patriots
5. Nick Perry, OLB, Green Bay Packers
6. Martellus Bennett, TE, New England Patriots
7. T.J. Lang, OG, Green Bay Packers
8. Dontari Poe, NT, Kansas City Chiefs
9. Jason Pierre-Paul, DE, New York Giants
10. Latavius Murray, RB, Oakland Raiders
11. Lawrence Timmons, ILB, Pittsburgh Steelers
12. Paul Worrilow, ILB, Atlanta Falcons
13. Riley Reiff, OT, Detroit Lions
14. Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
15. Barry Church, SS, Dallas Cowboys

Quotable

“Yes, I would.”

– Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, on wanting to win the Super Bowl for his ill mother.

This is a simple quote, but it reminds us that celebrities are just people like us. Brady’s loss would have been celebrated by many who can’t stand New England, yet we forget he’s dealing with trials and tribulations of his own. Brady certainly loved winning this ring for his mother, Galynn, who has been dealing with an illness all season. No amount of money, fame or previous success changes that.

Random stat

The Tennessee Titans are the only team with two first-round picks in the 2017 NFL Draft.

Info learned this week

1. Browns interested in Jimmy Garoppolo

There was plenty of talk throughout Super Bowl week that the Cleveland Browns could be interested in Jimmy Garoppolo, according to multiple reports. Garoppolo started the first two games of the season with Tom Brady suspended and played well, helping New England to a pair of wins.

Cleveland has the first and 12th-overall picks in the upcoming NFL Draft, so it doesn’t need to make this move. Still, Garoppolo has enjoyed the tutelage of Tom Brady and coaching of Bill Belichick and Josh McDaniels. Giving up the 12th-overall selection is a steep price, but it could jumpstart the Browns’ rebuilding process.

2. Colts lose Pat McAfee to shocking retirement

After landing Chris Ballard as their new general manager, it appeared the Indianapolis Colts were off to a good start this offseason. Instead, they suffered a tough blow with punter Pat McAfee announcing his retirement. McAfee, 29, is moving on from the NFL to work for Barstool Sports.

Typically, the loss of a punter is an afterthought, but McAfee is one of the best. A two-time Pro Bowler and 2014 All-Pro, Indianapolis will need to find a suitable replacement. It’s just one more hole for Ballard to fill on a team with plenty of them.

3. Kyle Shanahan interested in … Matt Schaub?

It’s expected that Atlanta offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan will become the next coach of the San Francisco 49ers this week. Shanahan, who comes over from a team with a great quarterback situation now steps into a franchise with a rancid one. In that vein, Shanahan might be looking to bring a familiar face to town in the person of Matt Schaub, according to ESPN.

Schaub has been the backup for three teams over the last trio of seasons, going from the Oakland Raiders to the Baltimore Ravens, and then the Falcons in 2016. At 35 years old, he’s not the future in San Francisco, but he could serve as a mentor and bridge for a rookie.

4. Raiders to San Diego?

After months of hearing how the Oakland Raiders are headed for Las Vegas, the team has hit a considerable snag. Owner Mark Davis was relying on both Goldman Sachs and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson for more than half the funding of a new stadium. Now, it appears that money is in serious jeopardy.

Now, San Diego is becoming a source of conversation for Davis. After losing the Chargers to Los Angeles in January, the city is NFL-vacant. While a new stadium would need to happen, and that’s obviously a massive stumbling block, it’s an interesting option.

5. Hall of Fame class announced, spark controversy

On Saturday night, we learned that Kenny Easley (Seahawks), Terrell Davis (Broncos), Kurt Warner (Rams, Giants, Cardinals), Jerry Jones (Cowboys), Jason Taylor (Dolphins, Jets), LaDainian Tomlinson (Chargers, Jets) and Morten Andersen (Saints, Falcons, Giants, Chiefs, Vikings) are comprising the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2017.

Notably omitted is Terrell Owens, who finished his illustrious career with 163 receiving touchdowns. Owens is one of the greatest receivers in NFL history by any measure, but failed to become even a finalist. Why? His off-the-field antics. It’s not right, but that’s reality for a player who was an all-time great, and all-time distraction.

History lesson

With Atlanta losing on Sunday, there are still only now four teams sitting at 0-2 in Super Bowl history. The Falcons joined the group of the Cincinnati Bengals, Philadelphia Eagles and Carolina Panthers, who remain ringless.

Parting shot

The Tony Romo sweepstakes are about to commence. Romo, 36, is ones of the best quarterbacks to ever become available, injury-prone and all. It has become known that Romo would like to play on a contender, with the Arizona Cardinals, Houston Texans, Kansas City Chiefs and Denver Broncos continually mentioned.

The two favorites of that group are Denver and Kansas City. Both have the financial means to acquire Romo, who would count as $14 million against the cap this season. In addition, Arizona and Houston face the same stumbling block; expensive starting quarterbacks. The Cardinals and Texans are locked into Carson Palmer and Brock Osweiler, respectively. The teams could take on Romo’s salary, but would have an inordinate amount of money tied up in one position.

With all that in mind, remember this as well: Dallas holds Romo’s fate. If the Cowboys get bowled over by an offer from a non-contending team, Romo is out of luck. If Tyrod Taylor gets released, Romo could be a nice fit for the Buffalo Bills as a bridge to the future. The same could be said with the New York Jets, who don’t have an obvious starter. Finally, with pressure on general manager Ryan Pace and head coach John Fox to win or vacate, the Chicago Bears could make a move.

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