Covering the spread

Thoughts on the upcoming Super Bowl, and the events surrounding it

When my mom asks me about a story in the NFL I know it must be a big deal.

Larger than the Dez catch, the Seahawks comeback or even the Super Bowl itself, Deflate-Gate has taken on a life of its own. This week NFL investigators found 11 of the Patriots’ 12 footballs used in the first half of the AFC championship game against the Colts were underinflated.

Preceded only by the State of the Union address, Deflate-Gate was the second lead story on NBC’s Today the morning after the story broke.

As of Friday afternoon, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have denied any knowledge of the deflated footballs, leaving the NFL scrambling  to end this scandal before the Patriots and Seahawks arrive in Arizona for the Super Bowl XLIX (49 – I had a tough time with that roman numeral too) next week.

No one is saying the extra couple psi would erase the Patriots 45-7 win over the Colts. No ,the controversy has more to do with our love for conspiracy, and the Patriots history under head coach Bill Belichick of crossing some lines, and to be blunt, breaking the rules (see Spy-Gate).

The question of who is behind the under-inflation, as well as their appropriate punishment has been exploited for every last talking point by media during the bye week leading to the Super Bowl. Without rehashing too much, here are three theories.

This was an accident

The Patriots are telling the truth. Bill Belichick, golden boy quarterback Tom Brady, nor any ball-boy/equipment manager had any knowledge about the under-inflation. Maybe the equipment manager’s ball-pressure gauge was defected? Unlikely? Yes.

The NFL wants to find a culprit, and bring the hammer down hoping to put this story to rest, allowing media and fans to look ahead to what should be a great game next weekend. They don’t want a side circus during the main event.

Ball boy

It was the ball boy, with the gauge, in the locker room (sorry I’m really into Clue lately). The idea this was some prank is hard for me to believe. I think there is great pride in working for one of the best dynasties in sports right now – you’re not going to risk your job, or your organization’s draft picks.

Tom Brady

You’re not going to risk your job, or your organization’s draft picks UNLESS, of course, face of the franchise, future first-ballot hall of fame quarterback Tom Brady asks you to do it. If the Patriots had intent in under-inflating footballs, Tom Brady is somewhere behind it.

He is the guy throwing the ball, and he is the one who would benefit, or be harmed, the most by changing the ball pressure. Even if deflation was the receivers’ idea – easier for them to catch in rainy conditions – they are going to run it by the guy who is THROWING THE BALL.

The only other possibility is if an equipment manager deflated the balls without Brady’s knowledge, BUT knowing that Brady preferred them slightly deflated in rainy conditions.

As I am writing this I realize why the story is so big. This gossip is more fun than analyzing how the Seahawks defense will matchup against the Patriots offensive schemes. Predicting that is a crapshoot anyway (see last year’s Super Bowl outcome).

to the real fun: the third theory is concerning for Brady and his legacy IF the Patriots lose the game this weekend. He will have lost his last three Super Bowls with his last win coming in 2005 – I was in elementary school then. Not to mention the cheater talk surrounding him and the Patriots.

I’m a Brady fan though, so I’m cheering for him this weekend. I’ll probably put some money on the Patriots and maybe even spice it up with some prop bets as well – a first for me. Throw $10 or the house on these if you can find them.

+300 (3/1) Brady wears the toque in Arizona.

I have to give credit to my buddy Daman for this. Not even insane odds, because this will happen. Brady is usually the only one not wearing his helmet as the Pats come out of the tunnel (because he is so god damn beautiful), and for the past month he’s been sporting the toque. Plus, the Patriots marketing team will be looking to push the winter accessories.

Over/Under 2 minutes, 2.5 seconds for Idina Menzel to complete the anthem.

Pick’em, but definitely under the time John Travolta needs to correctly say her name.

What song will Katy Perry perform first at halftime?

So many hits, so little time. “Firework” is the most popular – pays 3/2 – but if Imagine Dragons taught us anything at the Grey Cup, acts save the best for last. They went with their very new single at the time, “Bet My Life,” before playing “Demons” and “Radioactive.” I’m going with “This Is How We Do.” You can get it paying 5/1, and the intro allows time for an extravagant entrance.

So many bets, so little money.

Eric MacLise hosts Covering the Spread 10am Tuesdays on UMFM 101.5.