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Don’t count out Brady, Belichick yet

How important is a quarterback to an NFL team’s success? If it’s the preseason, and the quarterback not on the field is Tom Brady, the difference is as obvious as Bill Belichick‘s absent sense of humor.

The New England Patriots have gone 0-4 since taking an 18-0 record into the Super Bowl in February.

Brady, who limped for a week before flopping in the Super Bowl, has a right foot injury and has not played in the preseason. The Patriots have been pathetic in his absence, going 0-3 and getting outscored 70-42.

Of course, ESPN’s Chris Berman sounded the alarm: "Belichick has not had Brady yet, and they haven’t had a win in the preseason yet. How concerned are the Patriots about their field general?"

Don’t panic yet, Berman fans. Las Vegas oddsmakers are keeping things in perspective. New England is a 161/2-point home favorite over the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 1.

* ONE MANNING SHORT — Brady will play in the regular-season opener, and the preseason will be forgotten. Same goes for the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning, who had left knee surgery July 14.

Manning finally appeared at practice last week and ended his self-imposed silence by telling the media, "This, maybe, will stop some of the whining going on. I’ve not really had a whole lot to say, to tell you the truth."

To tell the truth, Manning never says much when he’s healthy and playing.

* FANTASY ISLAND — Injuries to Brady and Manning have fantasy football owners whining as they prepare for their drafts. Dallas’ Tony Romo and New Orleans’ Drew Brees are looking better.

Jason Whitlock of The Kansas City Star has tabbed Philadelphia’s Donovan McNabb as his sleeper QB pick.

Whitlock: "It’s that time of year again, the time when I can’t step out of my house, sit inside a sports bar or wait to board an airplane without some man or woman asking me about fantasy football.

"I’m convinced the football gods are going to smile on McNabb and keep him healthy for the first time in three seasons. Make McNabb the fourth quarterback on your draft board after Brady, Manning and Romo."

* ALL PLAY, NO WORK — Every office has a few fantasy nerds hanging around.

These people can be annoying to other employees and costly to the employer.

According to a Newsday story, fantasy football leaguers could cost companies nationwide an estimated $9.2 billion in lost productivity over the 17-week NFL season. That figure comes from the Fantasy Sports Trade Association and Fantasy Sports Association — and how sad is it that organizations like that actually do exist?

This story is all about waste management, so Newsday went to the source.

Tony Leteri, president of Leteri Waste Management in Kings Park, N.Y., has no objections to his 11 employees engaging in fantasy football.

"It’s another way to improve the atmosphere in an office," he said. "Just don’t take advantage of the boss."

If you trash the boss, he will can you.

COMPILED BY MATT YOUMANS REVIEW-JOURNAL

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