Favorite

Blowing up the Super Bowl 

Finally, a reason to pay attention to the Super Bowl, America's most stultifying TV sporting event.

To this non-NFL fan, the uproar over the New England Patriots' underinflated footballs is reminiscent of long ago pro-rasslin' broadcasts from Sunnyside Gardens in Queens. I used to watch with my grandfather Connors, who'd get worked up and throw empty Pabst Blue Ribbon cans at his black and white TV.

A retired railroad worker and brawler, the Old Man nevertheless found it believable that Dr. Jerry Graham could whack somebody upside the head with a folding chair and that guy could jump up executing flying dropkicks. Me, I cheered the villains — especially the Graham Brothers, bleached blondes who strutted, sneered and cheated their way to tag-team victory.

"Dr." Jerry Graham claimed a PhD from Arizona State, which in pre-Google days could have been the dark side of the moon. An announcer once asked their manager, also handy with balsa-wood chairs, what kind of doctor?

"A tree surgeon," he said.

To see the villains lose to Argentina Rocca, you had to buy tickets to non-televised extravaganzas at Madison Square Garden. Not going to happen. My father took us to see Willie Mays, but never a scripted carnival show.

So what's this NFL brouhaha all about? I was amused to read a political columnist's sneering reference to "evil genius Bill Belichick and pretty boy Tom Brady's New England Patriots" in my local newspaper — a phrase revealing more about its author than his subjects.

An "evil" football coach?

People, it's a game played with an inflated leather ball, as the sporting world now knows in excruciating detail.

And that's about all they really know.

Otherwise, it's the Good Guys vs. Bad Guys in the world's best-publicized morality play.

See, New England played the first half of the AFC championship with footballs below the mandated 13.5 to 12.5 PSI range, supposedly making them easier to throw and catch. This gave them a tainted 17-7 lead. Forced by vigilant referees to use properly inflated balls, New England outscored the Baltimore Colts 28-0 in the second half.

So you can see what a crucial difference "about two pounds" of pressure — the most precise figure yet offered — made to the outcome.

But that's not the point. It's not the SEX, it's the lying! said everybody back in 1998 when Bill Clinton ... (insert juvenile word play here).

Anyway, that's what the sterner sports pundits are saying now. It's not the score; it's the sanctity of the game.

See, because this is their big opportunity to star in America's real national sport: the Dionysian rite of celebrity sacrifice, a 21st century pagan ritual for the Internet age. We build them up so we can tear them down!

So is Golden Boy Tom Brady a cheater? The New Yorker's Ian Crouch got it exactly right describing the quarterback's first befuddled press conference — the one in the goofy wool cap.

"[T]he real purpose, the joy of the matter for the reporters, was to prod the handsome millionaire along though the familiar ritual of humiliation on national television. If he wasn't going to provide Deflategate's dramatic final act, then he could at least provide a little wish fulfillment, by making himself abject, or else ridiculous."

Because nobody really loves a Golden Boy, do they? Anyway, this is basically how our national political press corps works. So why not ESPN and the rest?

Meanwhile, as a baseball fan, I'm flabbergasted by NFL regulations that clearly encourage "customizing" game balls. Under MLB rules, only umpires handle baseballs until they're put into play. Otherwise, pitchers would work them over with power tools. Baseballs would come floating in loaded with bird shot, chicken feathers, whatever. Nobody would ever score.

As a former playground basketball player, I also know that cold temperatures make inflated balls go flat. In the NFL, each team brings its own. So if Tom Brady wanted footballs softer than 12.5 lbs., all he'd need to do on a chilly, rainy day would be follow the rules as written: Inflate them to the minimum in a warm room, and then take them outside.

The Boston Globe has reported about a Pittsburgh research lab that tested 12 "authentic NFL footballs" under game conditions. "[O]n average, footballs dropped 1.8 psi when being exposed to dropping temperatures and wet conditions."

Anyway, what has the NFL really found, asks a little-noticed, perhaps because (pardon the expression) scandal-deflating, article in Pro Football Talk. According to an anonymous source, "the football intercepted by Colts linebacker D'Qwell Jackson was roughly two pounds under the 12.5 PSI minimum. The other 10 balls that reportedly were two pounds under may have been, as the source explained it, closer to one pound below 12.5 PSI."

In short, much ado about damn-near nothing.

But if you're wondering, yeah, it definitely worked.

This year I'm watching the Super Bowl.

Favorite

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

More by Gene Lyons

  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trump's first days

    Never mind that President-elect Trump and his keenest supporters have gone from boasting to whining in two short weeks.
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • Worth it

    My most recent one-to-one conversation with Hillary Clinton took place in October 1991, and I've been laughing at myself ever since.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Killer's failure

    Has any murdering terrorist ever failed more dramatically than Dylann Storm Roof? Like any punk with a gun, he managed to slaughter nine blameless African-American Christians at an historic church in Charleston, S.C. Intending to start a race war, he succeeded only in shocking the moral conscience of the state and nation.
    • Jun 25, 2015
  • Obama takes long view

    Right now, it's beginning to look as if President Obama will end up deserving the Nobel Peace Prize he was so prematurely awarded in 2009.
    • Jul 23, 2015
  • Trump and political correctness

    So I see where candidate Donald Trump and former Gov. Sarah Palin are complaining about "political correctness," the supposedly liberal sin of being too polite to tell the unvarnished truth. Me too. I've always laughed at the follies of self-styled "radical" left-wing professors.
    • Sep 3, 2015

Most Shared

  • Labor department director inappropriately expensed out-of-state trips, audit finds

    Jones was "Minority Outreach Coordinator" for Hutchinson's 2014 gubernatorial campaign. The governor first named him as policy director before placing him over the labor department instead in Jan. 2015, soon after taking office.
  • Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist resigns

    Bob Scoggin, 50, the Department of Arkansas Heritage archeologist whose job it was to review the work of agencies, including DAH and the Arkansas Highway and Transportation Department, for possible impacts on historic properties, resigned from the agency on Monday. Multiple sources say Scoggin, whom they describe as an "exemplary" employee who the week before had completed an archeological project on DAH property, was told he would be fired if he did not resign.
  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
  • Lawsuit filed against ADC officials, prison chaplain convicted of sexual assault at McPherson

    A former inmate who claims she was sexually assaulted over 70 times by former McPherson Womens' Unit chaplain Kenneth Dewitt has filed a federal lawsuit against Dewitt, several staff members at the prison, and officials with the Arkansas Department of Corrections, including former director Ray Hobbs.
  • Lessons from Standing Rock

    A Fayetteville resident joins the 'water protectors' allied against the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Latest in Gene Lyons

  • Forget identity politics

    Amid the climate of disbelief and fear among Democrats following Donald Trump's election, a fascinating debate has broken out about what's called "identity politics" on the left, "political correctness" by the right.
    • Dec 1, 2016
  • Trump's first days

    Never mind that President-elect Trump and his keenest supporters have gone from boasting to whining in two short weeks.
    • Nov 23, 2016
  • Worth it

    My most recent one-to-one conversation with Hillary Clinton took place in October 1991, and I've been laughing at myself ever since.
    • Nov 17, 2016
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Arkansas remembers Pearl Harbor

Central Arkansas venues have a full week of commemorative events planned

Event Calendar

« »

December

S M T W T F S
  1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30 31

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Worth it

    • Alas, Gene's memory ain't what it used to be. He wrote a column some time…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Forget identity politics

    • Hillarys 'Stronger Together' nonsense failed because she failed to make it a reality. As Gene…

    • on December 5, 2016
  • Re: Fake economics

    • Trump economic proposals: Rates for Married-Joint filers: Less than $75,000: 12% More than $75,000 but…

    • on December 5, 2016
 

© 2016 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation