Deflate-Gate: Investigation Closing in on Locker Room Attendant

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frankieleon via flickr
Amidst all the denials by Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, amidst all of the bluster and anger Belichick displayed in his impromptu press conference on Saturday afternoon, and amidst his slew of science experiments that he allegedly performed privately to prove that indeed it was merely the Patriots' normal process that sucked the air out of those footballs in the AFC Title Game (as opposed to some sort of underhanded, deliberate, illegal scheme to deflate the balls), it doesn't really change the fact that most of America believes one thing:

The Patriots deployed an underhanded, deliberate, probably illegal scheme to deflate the balls used in the AFC Title Game. This is the bed Belichick has made for himself. His credibility when it comes to bending or breaking the rules is virtually nil.

Amazingly, in a comedy sketch to open Saturday Night Live this past weekend, the latest real life twist in Deflate-Gate may have been impersonated by art. SNL put the blame at the feet of a locker room attendant named "Dougie Spoons"....

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Previewing Super Bowl Week: Five Storylines

Categories: Game Time, Sports

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YouTube
So now begins the diffusing of Deflate-Gate
The shelf life for any thought-to-be-salacious NFL storyline sort of evolves as follows:

1. Story gets broken by one of Adam Schefter (ESPN), Jay Glazer (FOX), Chris Mortensen (ESPN, correct 32.5 percent of the time), or Ian Rapoport (NFL Network) and tweeted out.

(1a. Whoever doesn't break the story tweets as if they did and covers themselves by including the words "sources say" in his tweet.)

2. Sports radio and SportsCenter obsess over the story for the next two or three days, both becoming a huge brick and mortar version of a can of lighter fluid.

3. Fatigue sets in, and the topic evolves from "[fill in name of scandal]-Gate" to how sick we all are of discussing "[fill in name of scandal]-Gate".

4. Saturday Night Live and South Park race to see who can clown the scandal first.

And that's where we were this weekend on Deflate-Gate, when Bill Belichick called his press conference Saturday to show off his newfound science knowledge, and presumably SNL had to scramble to rewrite its script that day. Here's how it went:

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NFL Pro Bowl And WWE Royal Rumble Live In A Parallel Universe Sunday Night

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DuckPuppy via Flickr
It's been a while since we football fans have been able to dial into some totally mindless television viewing on a Sunday night. Since before the start of football season, to be exact (although there are plenty of people out there who categorize Sunday Night Football as "mindless").

We've spent the last twenty or so Sundays obsessing over an entire day of football and a Sunday night game on NBC. Next Sunday, we will be dissecting the most important game of the entire year in any sport (and the pressure of the balls used in said game!).

So last night was a night of escapism, where we could just unwind watching events where the consequences weren't all that sports-important. And amazingly, the two marquee events Sunday night, WWE's Royal Rumble and the NFL's Pro Bowl, delivered in tandem in shockingly parallel ways.

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Gary Kubiak Is Getting the Band Back Together, Hires Bill Kollar Away From the Texans

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Kubiak's gettin' the old gang back together in Denver.
When Gary Kubiak accepted the offer from the Baltimore Ravens to be their offensive coordinator for the 2014 season (and possibly beyond), in the back of his mind, I'm sure one of the key reasons was to rebuild his coaching image that was left at the bottom of a football well at the end of the Texans' 2-14 finish in 2013.

Kubiak wanted to remind people that, once upon a time, he could cobble together a pretty nice offense, and with the right pieces, he was pretty good at dialing up some football plays that would go for many yards and lots of points.

And guess what? Mission accomplished!


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Five WWE Title Matches That Were Bigger Travesties Than Deflate-Gate

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YouTube
Ring the damn bell!!
Well, now we know. Or we can guess, at least. Despite vehement denials from both to the contrary, it seems to be generally assumed by most of the sorts watching public that Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were both fully aware of, if not the impetus for, the deflation of the Patriots' game balls before the AFC Title Game last Sunday.

Belichick was his usual dismissive, stone cold, poker face as he let the questions bounce off of him like tennis balls against the garage. Brady was considerably more nervous and far less comfortable lying to everyone about breaking the rules. Regardless, the two of them are the biggest teacher/student villain pairing right now since Emperor Palpatine ordered Anakin to murder all those children in Revenge of the Sith.

But honestly, specific to Sunday, what was really accomplished by deflating footballs that wouldn't have otherwise been accomplished within the rules? The Patriots won the game 45-7 over the Colts, and outscored Indy in the second half 28-0, when the balls were presumably re-inflated to regulation pressure.

Belichick and Brady may need more than just a few pounds of relieved air pressure to defeat the Seahawks. If I may, I'd like to point them to our friends in old school WWE (nee WWF) for a few ideas, and a few game changing cheating escapades that were far worse than Deflate-Gate....

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Super Bowl Bye Week: This Weekend's Best Bets

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YouTube
Pro Bowl, Royal Rumble and Miss Universe? Sunday night is officially gonna be nuts.
In radio, when we randomly want to tell you about something coming up on the show later that day or later that week, we will interject with the phrase "programming note" and then convey the message to you.

So consider this paragraph the written version of a "programming note" -- I will be in Phoenix for the Super Bowl all next week doing my radio show from Radio Row, which each year is a cavalcade of really big-name guests, most of whom are NOT there merely for the fun of it. EVERYBODY is pimping something on Radio Row.

My point is that I hope to be able to provide insight and answers to questions being right there in Phoenix that I otherwise would not be able to back here in Houston, like "Is Pete Carroll's hair that fabulous in person?" and "How does Bill Belichick smell?" So there's something to look forward to.

In the meantime, even with no football this weekend, we should keep our betting muscles honed, just to stay ready for Super Bowl weekend if nothing else. So let's look at the board and see what there is to wager on this Sunday...

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Bill Belichick Speaks on Deflate-Gate: "I Had No Knowledge Whatsoever"

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YouTube
Bill Belichick pushed all his chips into the middle of the table on Thursday morning.
The standards for punishments established around the sports world over the past several years appear to be very clear. There is a distinct pecking order when it comes to most transgressions -- breaking the rules is bad, but lying about breaking the rules is worse.

We saw it with the Reggie Bush situation at USC a few years back when he lied about illegal benefits that he and his family received. We saw it with Bruce Pearl when he ran afoul of NCAA recruiting rules and lied about it, resulting in his termination by the University of Tennessee.

Granted, both of those were collegiate situations, but I think sports society has generally accepted this new standard. Contrition and acceptance "GREATER THAN" trying to fib your way through wrongdoing.

If indeed that is the case with the NFL as well, that lying and getting caught is worse than the crime itself, then Bill Belichick pushed all his chips into the middle of the table on Thursday morning, denying any knowledge of the noticeable deflation of the Patriots' footballs (11 of their 12 game balls were deflated by two pounds of pressure before the game) in the AFC Title Game on Sunday.

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New England Patriots Deflate-Gate Spawns Cialis Parody Commercial (w/ VIDEO)

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YouTube
Deflate-gate finally gets some comedy...
They say that comedy equals tragedy plus time, and while events like the New England Patriots' opting to (allegedly) deflate footballs before the AFC Championship Game hardly qualify as actual tragedy, people do take their football, and in turn this topic, quite seriously.

So we go through the normal stages as we process the latest Belichick-ian scandal. We first heard rumor that the Pats may have deflated the footballs, and we were incredulous. Then we got confirmation Tuesday night that the balls indeed did have less air at kickoff, and we were angry.

Then all of the conjecture about what may happen to the Patriots and how Belichick might be punished began to bubble up, and we became analytical. But now enough time has passed (yes, 48 hours is plenty of time to process this), and we are officially into the "comedy is acceptable" zone.

Thank God!

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Houston Rockets Valued By Forbes At Over 1.2 Billion Dollars

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In 2015, there is at least one immutable certainty in the sports business world -- if you're an NBA owner, business is good.

Less than four years ago, as the NBA was going through a summer of lockout and months of arduous negotiations hammering out a new collective bargaining agreement, the song from the NBA owners was one of financial strife, with claims that a third of the teams in the league (at least) were losing money, in large part because of a system of signing and paying players that led to owners being unable to protect themselves from their worst enemy -- themselves.

Despite a salary cap system that kept the salaries of the most marketable players capped at relatively reasonable levels, many owners more than ate up whatever benefit they were getting from muted superstar salaries by overspending on mid-level, highly replaceable, oftentimes journeyman players.

A new CBA didn't completely eradicate bad decisions, but it certainly minimized their impact, and a system which saw the players' percentage of basketball-related income reduced (from 57 percent to 50 percent) was the first in a series of events that have led to a boom period in franchise values.

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Gary Kubiak Introduced As Broncos Head Coach

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The Denver Broncos made it official on Tuesday afternoon -- Gary Kubiak is back as a head coach in the NFL, taking the reins of a franchise that won two Super Bowls in the late '90s (with Kubiak as part of Mike Shanahan's staff) and is on a streak of four consecutive division titles in the AFC West.

On the grand scale of "failing upward," it's probably not anywhere close to, say, Lane Kiffin, who parlayed getting fired after two seasons with the Raiders into one 7-6 season at the University of Tennessee, and then parlayed that into the USC job. But with a career record of 61-64 as a head coach, and only two playoff wins (both over a team quarterbacked by Andy Dalton, who has no playoff wins), Kubiak has to feel fortunate not only to get a second chance, but to get a second chance with one of the best organizations in football.

Kubiak met with the media on Tuesday, and there were certainly some nuggets to come out of that session, some from Kubiak and some from others, that should have made Texans fans' ears perk up a bit.

Let's examine a few of these...

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