HOUSTON — Anyone anticipating an awkward moment between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady on Monday morning had to be disappointed.

The two were cordial and even shook hands.

They were brought together by circumstance after the Patriots rallied to an improbable 34-28 overtime victory over the Atlanta Falcons Sunday night. Brady was named the game’s Most Valuable Player for a record fourth time. Goodell, who suspended Brady for the first four games of this season as part of the Deflategate punishment, presented him the trophy. Patriots Coach Bill Belichick also was at the press conference.

In his introduction, Goodell called Sunday night’s game – the first overtime in Super Bowl history – “maybe one of the greatest games of all time.” He added, “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 as one of the greatest players of all time. And Coach Belichick with his success of five Super Bowls cementing his legacy as one of the best coaches of all time. It’s a great honor for me personally to have both of them here this morning.”

Goodell may be seeing the 39-year-old Brady for a while. Reports throughout the week leading to the Super Bowl indicated that he and the Patriots are working on a contract extension.

On Monday, Brady gave no indication he was ready to stop playing.

“I don’t feel 39,” he said. “I hang out with 20-year-olds and they make you feel pretty young. I try to take care of myself. You learn through a lot of positive and negative experiences. You learn a lot from the 17 years. You learn what to do and what not to do and what works for you. ”

Brady credited a strict dietary and workout regimen with keeping his body refreshed during the brutal NFL season. “Your body is your asset and if you are hurting all the time football is no fun,” he said.

The MVP trophy was Brady’s fourth at the Super Bowl, surpassing Brady’s idol, Joe Montana. But Brady, who threw for a Super Bowl record 466 yards with a Super Bowl record 43 completions on a Super Bowl record 62 attempts, said in the Monday press conference that the MVP should have gone to someone else: James White.

White, a third-year running back, scored three touchdowns, including the winner in overtime, and set a Super Bowl record with 14 catches. “I think James White deserves it,” said Brady. “It’d be nice for him. It took a real team effort.”

Brady spoke about 15 minutes, touching on several subjects, including having his ailing mother, Galynn, there.

“She’s been through a lot, way harder than what I went through last night, way harder than what our team went through last night,” he said. “And my dad’s been there every step of the way. They set such a great example for me and all families go through challenging times personally. She has a lot of support and a lot of love and I was just happy last night to be able to celebrate with her. She hadn’t been to a game all year, but what a hell of a game for her to be at.”

He also talked about his missing game jersey. He put it in his bag after the game but when he went to leave, his game jersey was gone. He joked about watching for it on eBay.

“Those are pretty special ones to keep,” he said. “But what can you do? I’ll take the ring and that’s good enough for me.”

THIS WAS a special one for Belichick too, sharing hugs on the field with his sons, Steve (the Patriots’ safeties coach) and Brian (a scouting assistant). His daughter, Amanda, head women’s lacrosse coach at Holy Cross, flew in Saturday and was on the field for the celebration.

“It was a tremendous feeling to be able to put my arms around them and celebrate,” he said.

But as great as the Patriots’ victory was, Belichick knew he didn’t have a whole lot of time to enjoy it.

“As of today, and as great as today feels and as great as today is, in all honesty we’re five weeks behind in the 2017 season,” he said, straight-faced, talking about scouting and looking at potential free agents, both on the Patriots and elsewhere.

He said his team doesn’t have a whole lot of time to take off right now.

“If you don’t do a good job on your football team in February, March and April you’re probably going to see that in November, December and January,” he said.

New England won the coin toss to start the overtime session after Matthew Slater called heads. Not that that’s a surprise.

“I always call heads,” he said. “When my dad (Hall of Famer Jackie Slater) was a captain, he called heads his whole career. I always call heads, and there is a little bit of luck. There is a little bit of a family faith story there. But we go heads. The Slaters call heads.”

Slater said he has called heads for the last six years. He called heads to start the game and the coin came up tails.

RECORD SETTERS: The Patriots set 21 team or individual records in Super Bowl LI and combined with Atlanta to set three more. New England also tied four Super Bowl records and tied another with Atlanta.

While it isn’t a record, it is impressive that the Pats scored on their final five possessions (not counting that 3-second possession at the end of the fourth quarter) with four touchdowns and a field goal. New England had only scored one field goal on its first seven possessions.

And here’s another tidbit: the Patriots won without ever leading in regulation. New England improved to 2-0 in overtime in the playoffs, the other coming, in the Snow Bowl, a 13-10 win over Oakland, won on an Adam Vinatieri kick, in a divisional round game in the 2001 season.

Mike Lowe can be contacted at 791-6422 or:

[email protected]

Twitter: MikeLowePPH

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