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Tom Brady on Michael Bennett: If he’s not the best defensive player in the league, I don’t know who is

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NFL: Super Bowl XLIX-New England Patriots vs Seattle Seahawks Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When the New England Patriots last faced the Seattle Seahawks, the issue of injuries on the defensive side of the ball for the Seahawks was a hot one. Not only did they have key players injured in the weeks before the game, but Cliff Avril missing the second half is often cited as perhaps the biggest reason that Tom Brady was able to get so much more effective after halftime and lead the Patriots to a comeback win.

Still, it sounds like Brady would have been even happier if Michael Bennett was the defensive end that had to leave the game.

Talking to reporters this week ahead of New England’s rematch with Seattle, Brady had the highest possible praise for Bennett, brother of Patriots tight end Martellus Bennett:

He and his brother Michael [Bennett], I know he’s not playing this week, but if he’s not the best defensive player in the league, I don’t know who is. He’s right up there at the top, so they’ve got good genes in that family, I know that.

It’s an interesting thought, especially coming from someone like Brady. I can’t say there’s anyone on New England even worthy of consideration in that category, so he’s safe from too much locker room backlash (maybe). Of course, Darrelle Revis played in the Patriots win that day and now plays for division rival New York Jets, but is not close to the player he once was. J.J. Watt is out for the year. The league-leader in sacks is an unknown player named Lorenzo Alexander (whom Brady has faced twice, Seattle has faced once). But even still, what about Von Miller? What about Bennett’s own teammates Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas and Avril? (Can you imagine Tom Brady complimenting Richard Sherman? I mean at this point, I’ll believe anything could happen.)

And what did happen was Brady called Bennett the best defensive player in football, or at least that he was ignorant of there being a better one. This is either the nicest trash talk in NFL history or some really weird reverse psychology.