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What we learned Monday at the Super Bowl

PHOENIX -- The attention will eventually turn to football. We think. But the focus on this Monday of Super Bowl week was squarely on the investigation into the Patriots' activities before the AFC Championship Game.

The story can't start to quiet down when new developments pop up each day. FOX Sports' Jay Glazer dropped a doozy on Monday, reporting that the NFL has zeroed in on a Patriots' locker-room attendant who was seen on surveillance video taking the footballs from the official's locker room prior to kickoff against the Colts.

That was the first big surprise. The second one came when Patriots owner Robert Kraft preceded Bill Belichick's introductory press conference with a strong declaration of innocence.

"If the (Ted) Wells investigation is not able to definitely determine that our organization tampered with the air pressure in the footballs, I would expect and hope the league would apologize to our entire team and in particular coach Belichick and Tom Brady for what they have had to endure the last week. I am disappointed in the way the entire matter has been handled and reported upon," Kraft said.

Wells, meanwhile, released a statement Monday that indicated the investigation won't be over for weeks. He also advised against "public comment concerning the matter" until the investigation is over.

Perhaps Kraft's missive will be the final major salvo on the topic this week, although we doubt it. Monday sure felt like an attempt for various parties to get in the last word before moving on to Seattle.

Here's what else we learned Monday at the Super Bowl:

Patriots

  1. By surprising the assembled crowd, Patriots owner Robert Kraft was able to lift the weight off of Bill Belichick momentarily and put the attention squarely on his own shoulders.
  1. This could be a week where we learn something about Tom Brady. With plenty of time to filibuster, Brady might actually answer some questions about his legacy, his future plans and his thoughts on 15 very interesting years. He almost bit on a question about Joe Montana's Super Bowl prowess and the potential of going down as the best quarterback of all time.
  1. Bill Belichick has a plan to turn this controversy against the Seahawks. He has to. The coach appeared relaxed and calm on Monday, joking with a few international reporters while sidestepping any questions related to the ongoing investigation.
  1. As for Brady's legacy, we know that he wants to play well into his 40s. Patriots guard Dan Connolly told Around The NFL that he thinks his star quarterback can do it. "If he keeps working the way he does, I don't see why not," said Connolly. "He's a hard worker and a great competitor." With Brady's father believing his son's time in New England "will end badly," it's fair to wonder if the final chapter of his storied playing career might unfold elsewhere.
  1. Patriots defensive tackle Vince Wilfork said Marshawn Lynch is "hands down" the best running back New England will face this season, calling the hard-charging bruiser a "legit" force. Safety Devin McCourty agreed, telling us that New England will need "all 11 guys" to attack Beast Mode when he has the ball.
  1. Kraft certainly helped take the pressure off his coach and quarterback, and his timing was perfect. We couldn't help but sense an ugly and awkward tension in the room as piles of sports reporters waited for the media session to begin. There's no way New England can avoid questions about the deflation business -- it will linger all week -- but the Patriots managed to escape Monday's presser intact.

-- Marc Sessler and Conor Orr

Seahawks

  1. The Seahawks are obsessed with slowing downRob Gronkowski on Sunday. Coach Pete Carroll was even watching cut-ups earlier in the day, seeking any pointers that might help his defenders against the NFL's most dominant red-zone threat.
  1. Carroll revealed a commonality with his Super Bowl opponent: Just like the Patriots, the Seahawks' season turned on a loss at Kansas City.
  1. Carroll stressed that there is "no place" this week for talk of Seattle dethroning New England as the NFL's next great dynasty. The Seahawks will allow their minds to explore that territory after the game.
  1. Linebacker K.J. Wright expects the Falcons to be an "automatic" playoff team once Dan Quinn takes over and revamps Atlanta's defense.
  1. You knew Richard Sherman was smart, but did you realize he is a genius? "Richard Sherman is probably one of the most intelligent football players in the league," wide receiver Doug Baldwin said, "if not one of the most intelligent people in the world."
  1. Perhaps the most surprising news of the day was Carroll's revelation that Robert Kraft asked for input on Bill Belichick before hiring the three-time Super Bowl winner. This came just days after Kraft fired Carroll as head coach.

"When he was making his choice to hire coach Belichick, I had one opportunity to say something to him about that," Carroll explained, "and I thought that was really a unique hire, a special hire and a guy that would really fit in well if he let him do what he was capable of doing. I think Bill is a very open, free thinker and a guy that needs that kind of control to be at his best. ... It's worked historically and in extraordinary fashion."

*-- Chris Wesseling *

The latest Around The NFL Podcast reacts to the Patriots' deflated footballs controversy and tells you whom to trust in Super Bowl XLIX. Find more Around The NFL content on NFL NOW.

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