Steelers sign QB Vick to 1-year deal

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PITTSBURGH (AP) Michael Vick needed a job. The Pittsburgh Steelers needed a backup quarterback.

One solid workout solved both problems.

The Steelers signed the four-time Pro Bowler to a one-year deal on Tuesday night, hopeful there’s enough game left in the 35-year-old’s still dangerous legs to provide the defending AFC North champions some insurance should something happen to Ben Roethlisberger.

“There’s not a throw on the field he can’t make from an arm strength standpoint,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin said. “He’s a very experienced guy at what he does at this point in his career and the mobility is still unique even at 35.”

Vick spent 2014 with the New York Jets, engineering an upset over the Steelers on Nov. 9 by throwing for two touchdowns in a 20-13 victory, his lone triumph during an otherwise forgettable season. The Jets made no move to retain him and with backup Bruce Gradkowski on injured reserve after hurting his left (non-throwing) hand in last Sunday’s preseason win over Green Bay, Pittsburgh didn’t hesitate to reach out to Vick.

Tomlin said the situation isn’t unlike what the Steelers went through in 2008 when Charlie Batch was injured during training camp. Pittsburgh brought in Byron Leftwich and Daunte Culpepper and put them through the paces at Latrobe High School before signing Leftwich, who ended up playing four seasons in two different stints with the team.

“(Leftwich) gave us several good years of service … a guy that was a franchise quarterback who embraced the challenge here,” Tomlin said. “I imagine Mike is of the same mindset.”

Vick is more than six years removed a lengthy prison stay following his federal conviction for financing a dogfighting conspiracy. The arrest and subsequent downfall forced him out of the league in his prime, though he resurrected his career with Philadelphia, making the Pro Bowl in 2010 after throwing for 3,018 yards and 21 touchdowns. The last three years have been a steady decline and he was little more than a situational specialist last season for the Jets behind Geno Smith.

Still, his presence carries weight. Steelers running back Le'Veon Bell said he was “starstruck” when he ran into Vick before practice.

“He’s a guy I idolized growing up,” Bell said.

One who has made a concerted effort to become an advocate for animals even as the stigma of his crime persists, something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Pittsburgh’s front office.

“Obviously we’re sensitive to those potential things but we are going to do our due diligence,” Tomlin said. “Rest assured that we’ve done that, but rest assured he’s done a lot since he’s gone through some of the things he’s gone through and his track record at this point in that regard speaks for itself.”

There is no chance of Vick being in the mix for the starting job so long as Roethlisberger – who hasn’t missed a game in two years – remains healthy. Vick instead will get a chance to beat out Landry Jones for the No. 2 spot. Jones remains a project entering his third season, though Tomlin has stressed repeatedly that the “arrow is pointing up” in terms of Jones’ development.

Vick, however, could be an intriguing option for an offense that ranked second in the league last year behind Roethlisberger, Bell and wide receiver Antonio Brown. He gave the Steelers an up-close look at what he could do during that odd victory in mid-November – a loss that nearly derailed Pittsburgh’s momentum on its way to a division title – and there remains an intense respect for his erratic if singular talent.

Roethlisberger, an unabashed dog lover whose foundation provides support for K-9 units in the region, isn’t concerned about Vick’s past misdeeds becoming a factor.

“This is a locker room, and it’s about football,” he said. “And that’s what matters most to me.”

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Bennett doesn’t fear backlash for skipping White House trip

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HOUSTON (AP) Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett says he is not worried about upsetting team owner Robert Kraft by not attending New England’s trip to the White House as Super Bowl champions.

Bennett said after the Patriots’ 34-28 win over the Falcons on Sunday night that he’s “not going to go” to the traditional meet-and-greet with the president. It will be the first visit of a Super Bowl champion to Washington since Donald Trump was sworn into office.

Trump’s positions have alienated some athletes, which has raised questions about whether some might choose to skip the trip while the new president is in office.

But Bennett said he isn’t concerned about it and thinks the team believes “in whatever I want to do.”

Kraft is a supporter of Trump and attended a celebration dinner in Washington for him the night before his inauguration.

Patriots’ Tom Brady earns 4th Super Bowl MVP trophy with epic comeback

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HOUSTON (AP) The greatest quarterback in NFL history led the biggest Super Bowl comeback to be the MVP on Sunday night.

Tom Brady rallied New England from a 25-point third-quarter deficit for a 34-28 win over the Atlanta Falcons in the first overtime game in Super Bowl history to earn his fifth Super Bowl title and fourth MVP trophy.

“They’re all sweet,” he said. “They’re all different and this was just an incredible team and I’m just happy to be a part of it,” he said.

Brady threw touchdown passes of 5 and 6 yards in the second half and tied things at 28-28 when he connected withDanny Amendola on a 2-point conversion with 57 seconds left.

He then directed the drive in overtime which ended with a 2-yard run by James White to make the Patriots the first team to win a Super Bowl after trailing by more than 10 points.

“We all brought each other back,” he said. “We never felt out of it. It was a tough battle.”

His performance certainly wasn’t without its struggles. His incredible second half and overtime came after a first half where the Patriots managed just three points and he threw an interception which Robert Alford returned 82 yards for a touchdown. He was hurried and harassed for much of the games. The Falcons sacked him five times and hit him on another eight occasions.

He noted the beating he took when he was trying to recount the details of the comeback and couldn’t remember what the score was at one point in the rally.

“There was a lot of (stuff) that happened tonight,” he said. “I got hit pretty hard.”

His 466 yards passing are a Super Bowl record, surpassing the 414 yards Kurt Warner had 17 years ago. He also set a record for most passes completed in a Super Bowl with 43 and most attempts with 62.

He is the first to play in seven Super Bowls and the victory ties him with Charles Haley for most Super Bowl rings.

After all Brady has done in his career, was this his finest moment?

“Tom’s had a lot of great ones,” coach Bill Belichick said. “But, yeah tonight was one of them.”

It’s a triumphant end to a difficult season for Brady, who missed the first four games because of his “Deflategate” suspension and dealt with his mother Galynn Brady suffering through an undisclosed illness. The Super Bowl was the first game she’s attended all season.

“They’re all happy,” he said fighting back tears. “It’s nice to have everybody here and it’s going to be a great celebration tonight.”

He shared a quick moment with her right after the game, but was looking forward to more time with her in the upcoming days.

“It’s kind of madness after the game so I didn’t get much quality time with her but we’ll get it this week,” he said.

But he certainly wasn’t asking for sympathy for his rough road to this title though, chuckling when someone asked about the adversity the Patriots have gone through in the past couple of years.

“We’ve done pretty good over the last few years … so I don’t think anyone’s feeling bad for the Patriots,” he said. “I don’t think anyone feels bad for the Patriots.”

Brady also collected the MVP trophy in 2001, 2003 and 2014.

“It was just a lot of mental toughness by our team and we’re going to remember this one for the rest of our lives,” Brady said.

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