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Tom Brady wonders why people care about his friendship with Donald Trump

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady doesn't understand why anyone cares about his longstanding friendship with President Donald Trump.

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"Why does everybody make such a big deal? I don't understand it," he said Monday in an interview with WEEI.

Trump told a crowd the night before Friday's inauguration that Brady called to congratulate him, The Associated Press reported. Among those gathered to watch his speech was Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

"I have called him, yes, in the past. Sometimes he calls me. Sometimes I call," Brady told WEEI. "But again, that's been someone I've known. I always try to keep it in context, because for 16 years you know someone before maybe he was in the position that he was in. He's been very supportive of me for a long time. It's just a friendship. I have a lot of friends. I call a lot of people."

He said his friendship with the 45th president doesn't mean that they see eye to eye on everything.

"I don't want to get into it, but if you know someone, it doesn't mean you agree with everything they say or they do. You have a lot of friends in your life," Brady said. "I think there are things that are based in your own dealings with someone that is a personal dealing, not a public dealing, because you have personal experiences."

Brady and the Patriots will face off Feb. 5 with the Atlanta Falcons in Super Bowl LI.

Super Bowl 2017: 6 stats from Falcons-Patriots matchup

The Atlanta Falcons and New England Patriots will play in Super Bowl LI, which Vegas oddsmakers are already predicting to be among the highest scoring on record.

>> Read more trending stories  

Fueling those predictions are the results of Sunday’s 44-21 NFC Championship win by the Falcons over the Green Bay Packers at the Georgia Dome and the Patriots’ 36-17 win over Pittsburgh in the AFC Championship.

Here are six amazing feats to emerge from those outcomes:

NFC South is king

The Falcons' berth in Super Bowl LI means every team from the NFC South has reached a Super Bowl, becoming the only division - since the league realigned in 2002 - to do so. The New Orleans Saints (2010) and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2002) were crowned champs. The Carolina Panthers reached the Super Bowl in the 2015 season.

The #Falcons are going to Super Bowl 51! pic.twitter.com/Oz0mK9JPFl— NFL Stats (@NFL_Stats) January 22, 2017

Tom Brady is a ‘Super’ guy

New England's Tom Brady will extend his NFL record for Super Bowl starts by a quarterback to seven. As a starter for 16 seasons, Brady has reached the Super Bowl 47 percent of the time.

Tom Brady. Wow. pic.twitter.com/avds305Ooj— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) January 23, 2017

Ryan just scored again

Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan will be making his first Super Bowl in his ninth season. He is the first NFL quarterback to throw at least three touchdown passes in four straight postseason (2012 and 2016) games.

On the big stage, @M_Ryan02 had poise.And he lifted the @AtlantaFalcons to #SB51: https://t.co/xUG9M5NnRX (Via @MikeSilver) pic.twitter.com/W38eBkpeLN— NFL (@NFL) January 23, 2017

Power couple

Entering their seventh Super Bowl together, coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have won 24 postseason games together - an NFL record.

Tom Brady and Bill Belichick head to their seventh Super Bowl, something no coach or player has ever done https://t.co/z4EqiA6kZR— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 23, 2017

The unsung hero

Chris Hogan set a record for receiving yards by an undrafted player in a playoff game - 180 yards against the Pittsburgh Steelers. In one game he surpassed his entire production at Monmouth, where he played one season catching 12 passes for 147 yards.

Chris Hogan played 3 years of lacrosse at Penn St, 1 year of football at Monmouth, undrafted. Story never gets old. pic.twitter.com/DTPxkzHmLn— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) January 23, 2017

Julio, the jet

Julio Jones finished the game NFC Championship Game against the Green Bay Packers two yards shy of his own franchise postseason record of 182 yards, set in 2012 against the San Francisco 49ers. Jones, however, becomes the first player in the Super Bowl era with two games of 150 yards and two touchdowns in conference title games.

Furthermore, Jones is now one of three players with multiple postseason games of 180 receiving yards. Hall of Famers Fred Biletnikoff and Jerry Rice are the other.

#JetJoneshas taken off!GB 0 | ATL 31#GBvsATL https://t.co/dfp4NT656c— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 22, 2017

Super Bowl 2017: What time, what channel, live stream; Lady Gaga at halftime

Everything about it is super – the teams, the atmosphere, the price for tickets.

This Super Bowl – officially Super Bowl LI (51) – is coming in a couple of weeks and between then and now, you will hear all you like (and more) about the players, the teams, the commercials and Lady Gaga’s halftime performance.

As for all the other details, here’s what you need to know about this year’s game.   

Who is playing?

The New England Patriots, the AFC champions, will take on the Atlanta Falcons the NFC champions.

Where is Super Bowl LI being played?

Super Bowl LI will be played at the NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas.

When is the game?

Sunday, Feb. 5, 2017

What time does the game start?

The game is scheduled to start at 6:30 p.m. ET.

 What about the pre-game show?

It is set to start at 11 a.m. ET on Fox. The coverage will include a sit-down interview with President Donald Trump. Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly will conduct the interview, and, according to Fox, it should air around 4 p.m. ET. The interview will be conducted a few hours before it is aired.

What channel is it on; is there a live stream?

The game will be broadcast on Fox. To watch it online, go to Fox Sports Go.

Who are the announcers:

Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Chris Myers  

What’s the line?

New England opened as a 3-point favorite over Atlanta.

How much do the ads cost?

A 30-second commercial for Super Bowl LI costs $5 million, according to Variety, $166,666 per second. A 30-second ad for the first Super Bowl in 1967 cost $42,000, or $1,400 per second.

How much do tickets cost?

The least expensive ticket on Ticketmaster is $5,000. That ticket is for an end-zone seat – one end-zone seat. The most expensive ticket is $11,994. That’s a sideline seat.

Who is staring in the halftime show?

 Lady Gaga will star in the halftime show.

Cool things

Fox will offer a "Be the Player" feature, Intel technology that allows viewers "to get inside the helmet of any player on the field.” Thirty-eight Ultra High Definition cameras will be placed around the perimeter of the field to allow producers to replicate a player’s perspective for the home viewing audience.

Fox will use a total of 70 cameras during the game, including 24 cameras installed in the end-zone pylons.

Falcons give game ball to player's wife who sat in stands while in labor

The Atlanta Falcons have the hottest offense in football.

So can you blame any fan who doesn’t want to miss a single play?

Put Falcons guard Andy Levitre’s wife, Katie, into that group.

She went into labor right before the NFC Divisional Round game against the Seahawks. But she stayed in the stands for the entire game.

>> Read more trending stories  

For her dedication, Falcons coach Dan Quinn said Katie was given the game ball after Sunday’s NFC Championship Game for showing the type of grit he expects from his players.

"We gave Andy Levitre's wife a game ball because it was a week late, and we put 'ultimate toughness' on it," Quinn said. "She had gone into labor during the game, but waited it out. So we thought that was definitely worth the game ball. ... She doesn't know that yet, so if she's watching, Andy will bring that today."

It's Championship Sunday and my one week birthday! I'm spending my day rooting on m.... https://t.co/Ta8ez7dKDV pic.twitter.com/GLL8VJmFyC— Katie Levitre (@katielevitre) January 22, 2017

Lily Gene Levitre was born at 12:07 a.m. on Jan. 15. On Monday, Andy Levitre joked that his daughter’s name has the same letters as the Super Bowl -- “L” and “I.”

The Falcons are preparing to face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI.

Congrats to @LevitreAndy and @KatieLevitre on their newborn daughter, Lily. Andy will take good care of her. He's been practicing. pic.twitter.com/ZrnXZeUaQP— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 15, 2017

Arthur Blank to send all Falcons employees to Super Bowl

Atlanta Falcons franchise owner Arthur Blank plans to take all of the team's employees to Houston for the Super Bowl. The team employs about 500 people.

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No further details of Blank's plans were available on Monday, the day after the Falcons beat the Packers for the NFC championship. The Falcons will play the AFC champion New England Patriots in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5.

Blank would not be the first NFL franchise owner to take all of his employees to the Super Bowl along with the team.

The owners of both the Panthers and the Broncos paid for all of their employees to go to the 2016 Super Bowl in Santa Clara, California.

Atlanta Falcons fan bawls after big win against Green Bay

The Atlanta Falcons are heading to Super Bowl LI, and one super fan just couldn't contain his emotions after the win Sunday.

Jonathan Tarantino was watching the game with friends in his Atlanta apartment Sunday and couldn't contain his emotions after the Falcons' win against the Green Bay Packers. The Falcons defeated the Packers 44-21, securing their spot in the Super Bowl.

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"I've waited for this ever since the 49ers," Tarantino said in a video shot by his wife, Kayte.

Tarantino, who grew up in Gwinnett County, said he is a lifelong Atlanta fan. 

"Since I could walk," said Tarantino. "An Atlanta fan no matter what, whether it be the Falcons, the Hawks or the Braves." 

He vividly remembers the Falcons' 2012 loss to the 49ers during the NFC Championship game.

"That's the first thing I thought of," said Tarantino. "Me and my wife, or my fiancée that the time, were watching at the Taco Mac at the CNN Center. I'll never forget that. It was a devastating loss."

He couldn't believe his team pulled out such a strong win against the Packers.

"Remembering that loss and watching them be able to beat the Packers the way they did, it was just a lot of emotion coming out all at once," said Tarantino.

The Falcons will take on the New England Patriots Sunday, Feb. 5 in Houston.

Tarantino said he and his wife are working on a plan to get to Houston.

"We probably won't get tickets, but me and my wife might drive to Houston to be there," said Tarantino. "It'll be once in a lifetime. It'll be awesome to have a little road trip and experience the environment there."

 Atlanta Falcons fan overwhelmed they're going to the Super BowlAMAZING: He's been an Atlanta Falcons fan his whole life... and he just. can't. even.  http://2wsb.tv/2kkhn1kPosted by WSB-TV on Monday, January 23, 2017

Falcons, Patriots to face off in Super Bowl LI

Get ready, football fans: The Atlanta Falcons will face the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LI. 

The Falcons defeated the Green Bay Packers 44-21 on Sunday to win the NFC championship, earning their first trip to the Super Bowl since 1998.

>> Lady Gaga teases Super Bowl performance with behind-the-scenes video

"We played great," said Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan, who threw for 392 yards and four touchdowns. "We did exactly what we've been doing all year, and it feels really good."

Meanwhile, the Patriots earned their NFL-record ninth berth in the Super Bowl by slamming the Pittsburgh Steelers 36-17 in the AFC championship game.

>> NFL dismisses report Lady Gaga can't talk Trump at Super Bowl Halftime Show

"There are only two teams left standing, and I'm happy we're one of them," said quarterback Tom Brady, who threw for 384 yards and three touchdowns.

The teams will face off Feb. 5 at Houston's NRG Stadium.

>> Read more trending stories

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Falcons player’s wife goes into labor during playoff win

Chipper Jones wasn’t the only Atlanta sports figure anxiously awaiting the birth of a child.

Falcons offensive guard Andy Levitre and his wife, Katie, were also expecting a birth. 

As the Falcons played the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday in the NFC Divisional playoff game, Katie Levitre went into labor while watching the game at the Georgia Dome. 

>> Read more trending storiesKatie Levitre, a former swimsuit model and NFL cheerleader, was on social media during the game, retweeting an NFL video of her husband spiking the football following a touchdown.

After the game, she waited for her husband to go through his usual post-game routine before heading out into Atlanta traffic.

The two were at an Atlanta hospital within hours. Their daughter, Lily, was born at 12:07 a.m. Sunday, about four hours after the game ended.

A photo posted by @katielevitre on Jan 16, 2017 at 10:42am PST

A photo posted by @katielevitre on Dec 25, 2016 at 7:22am PST

Levitre was acquired by the Falcons before the 2016 season in a trade from the Tennessee Titans for a sixth-round draft pick.

Lady Gaga teases Super Bowl performance with behind the scenes video

On Feb. 5, Lady Gaga will take the stage during the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

Less than three weeks before the championship game, Pepsi, who is sponsoring the halftime show, released a teaser video of the pop superstar as she prepares for her performance.  

>> Read more trending stories  

In the behind the scenes video, Gaga can be seen at other appearances, and clips show dancers preparing choreography for the big event. "Bad Romance" is one song fans might expect from Gaga during the show, according to the video.

"This is, obviously, a humongous platform. This is, probably, like, the greatest 12 minutes of our lives," said choreographer Richy Jackson, who has worked with Lady Gaga for at least 10 years. "We're just going to see a humble, appreciative yet showmanship side of Gaga. And we haven't seen her like this because we haven't been on a stage like this. It'll be a new face, a different kind of energy."

"It will be special because I've been planning this since I was 4," Gaga said in the preview. "So I know exactly what I'm going to do." 

Hold on to your hats! Your first look#BTS of #PepsiHalftime as @RICHYSQUIRREL gets @LadyGaga's dancers ready to make us Feb 5th! pic.twitter.com/NlteGrS7Wa— Pepsi(@pepsi) January 18, 2017

Gaga, who recently performed at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, has teased photos of her Super Bowl preparations on Instagram and said that she and her dancers built a tent in her backyard with a dance floor to practice.

"The thing is, it's such a big world stage in terms of how many people see it," Gaga said in the Pepsi behind the scenes video. "It's been done so many times (that) I think the challenge is to look at it and say, you know, 'What can I do differently? How can I elevate certain little things here and there?"

Last year, Lady Gaga sang the national anthem before the start of the Super Bowl game. She released her fifth studio album, "Joanne," in October.

<iframe src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/lady-gaga-super-bowl-teaser/embed?header=none&amp;border=false" width="100%" height="750" frameborder="no" allowtransparency="true"></iframe> <script src="//storify.com/cmgnationalnews/lady-gaga-super-bowl-teaser.js?header=none&amp;border=false"></script> [View the story "Lady Gaga Super Bowl teasers" on Storify]

Seattle's Bennett berates reporter after playoff loss to Falcons

Frustration boiled over for Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett as he lashed out at a reporter after Seattle’s 36-20 NFC playoff loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, ESPN reported.

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Bennett became angry when a reporter mentioned that the Seahawks’ rushers had difficulty putting pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan. Bennett challenged the reporter’s observation.

 "We got a lot of pressure," Bennett said. “He threw the ball really fast. There was some busted stuff going on so obviously you don’t know football. He threw the ball pretty fast. He did his thing. We rushed as good as we could. Don’t point and say we didn’t do what we needed to do, OK? Don’t do that.”

Ryan completed 26 of 37 passes for 338 yards, three touchdowns and was not intercepted. The Seahawks had three sacks and eight quarterback hits during the game.

"Get out of my face now," Bennett continued. "Don’t tell me I didn’t do my job. … Get … out of my face. Don’t play with me. I just put my heart on the … field. … Try me again, see what happens. I ain’t one of these … out here. Don’t try to tell me what I didn’t do."

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