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Mares: Deflategate

The latest football scandal - known as Deflategate - may not rise to the level of Presidential philandering or the infamous Citizens United Supreme court case allowing unlimited political campaign money. But it has certainly taken a bit more luster from the gridiron for me.
There I was, all set to cheer for the Patriots in the Super Bowl, when along comes the charge that in the last game, the Patriots deflated the footballs to make them easier to pass and catch. Coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady have professed complete ignorance, but Brady is as careful as they come as a quarterback, and Belichick is a micro-managing control freak who’s already been fined for stealing signals from the New York Jets. So to me, Belichick’s and Brady’s denials sound about as plausible as that of Richard Nixon's secretary's Rose Mary Woods about "accidentally" erasing 18 minutes of a White House tape in 1973.

In fact, this reminds me of the apocryphal story about Shoeless Joe Jackson, who with several teammates threw the 1919 World Series. And I feel a little like the kid who was quoted at the time as exclaiming, "Say it isn't so, Joe!" But some of my fan-friends call me naïve, pointing out certain similiaries between deflating footballs and inflating bodies with performance enhancing drugs.

Four years ago, I thought I had cured myself of football when the far more serious scandals of concussions and head injuries broke. Then I became a prodigal fan, returning to the NFL and sneaking a quarter here and there. As a counterweight to the Patriots, I chose the Packers until they were defeated in over-time by the Seattle Seahawks.
Dan Shaunessey of the Boston Globe has written that the Patriot legacy is tarnished forever and I’m tempted to agree – even as the National Football League investigation continues. They appear to be looking in all the wrong places first, and conspicuously avoiding close scrutiny of Brady.
If this were a criminal proceeding, the NFL might well be considered an unindicted co-conspirator. For years, they were in denial about head injuries, brain damage and domestic abuse. Now it seems they may be trying to drag out the investigation until after the Super Bowl is over – when they can move on to next season - and presumably no one will care anymore.

For my part, I have yet to decide whether to watch the Superbowl or not. And which team to support if I do.

Writer Bill Mares of Burlington is also a former teacher and state legislator. His most recent book is a collection of his VPR commentaries, titled "3:14 And Out."
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