BOSTON (CBS) — If Sunday night’s incredible Super Bowl victory wasn’t enough, all of New England got to see the awkward exchange they’ve been begging for on Monday morning.
As fans back home collected their thoughts on the Patriots’ 34-28 comeback win over the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI, Tom Brady collected his Super Bowl MVP trophy. Handing him that hardware was none other than NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, the man who suspended Brady for four games following the league’s “investigation” of DeflateGate.
Both Brady and Patriots head coach Bill Belichick were at the presentation on Monday, with Goodell praising them both.
“The two gentlemen we have here have set new bars across the league. Five super bowl championships, and four MVPs for Tom Brady, cementing his legacy as not just a great Super Bowl performer, but maybe one of the greatest player of all time,” said Goodell. “It’s a great honor for us, and me personally, to have both of these guys here this morning.”
They both had smiles on their face during the photo-op, and Brady shook Goodell’s hand when he left the stage.
As expected, Brady took the high road at the podium, and much like he did two years ago with corner Malcolm Butler, he once again deferred to a teammate as the game’s MVP.
“I think James White deserves it. It would be nice for him,” Brady said of New England’s running back who scored three touchdowns on Sunday. “But it was a full team effort.”
Brady was asked if this was the first step towards repairing the relationship with Goodell, but he didn’t say.
“It’s an honor to be here and have the commissioner present us with the trophy,” said Brady. “It certainly means a lot and my kids will be happy to see that trophy. They always ask about it, and I get to bring them one home.”
Belichick, on the other hand, used his time at the podium to fire back at any of Brady’s critics, or those who felt he played with a little extra motivation this season.
“With all due respect, I think it’s inappropriate to suggest that in Tom’s career he’s been anything other than a great teammate, a great worker,” Belichick said at the podium. “He’s given us every single ounce of effort, blood, sweat and tears he has in him. To insinuate that this year was somehow different, that this year he competed harder or competed to a higher degree than he has in the past, is insulting to the tremendous effort and leadership and competitiveness for the 17 years I’ve coached him.
“It’s been like that every year, every day, every week, every practice. I don’t care if it’s in May, August or January, Tom Brady gives us his best every time he steps on the field,” said Belichick.
Brady said he was still “pretty wired” after he was done celebrating late into Sunday night, so he watched the highlights of their improbable comeback.
“It was just a great team performance. I’m so proud to be a part of this team. We faced a lot of adversities over the course of the year, and overcame with a lot of mental toughness,” he said. “It was a great way to really culminate the season.”
Brady completed 43 of his 62 passes for a Super Bowl record 466 yards and two touchdowns, going 21-of-27 for 246 yards in the fourth quarter and overtime.