The wind has begun to go out of “Deflategate,” and there is hope the Super Bowl may still be evaluated as a football game. Many of the “Enemies of Bill” have blustered their last diatribe, and the conversation is returning to the game, instead of the gamesmanship.
You can learn a lot from the betting trends on the Super Bowl. The point spread that slumped from 2.5 favoring the Seahawks to -1 favoring the Patriots, during a week when the Pats were equated with sleeze, is a sure indicator that smart people do not believe the Patriots won by cheating.
Apparently the smart money is favoring the New England Patriots, which is more than I can say for the less critical media jockeys and fans. The blather about the cheating culture of the Super Bowl contenders has begun to die down, as the serious bettors put their mouths where their money is.
Can we assume the Patriots are not smart enough to con their way to a Super Bowl victory? Or is it possible for Bill Belichick to put one over on the organizers of the most-watched sporting event on the planet? If the Patriots win Super Bowl XIVIX will the conspiracy theorists devise the most elaborate theory of cheating in modern sports coverage? Will they assume it was all done with mirrors?
Inevitably Belichick will pull another rabbit out of the hat. If the play is successful, what do you think the conspiracy pundits will say? “There he goes again, messing with the rules!” Because everything they see is through the lens of “He’s guilty!” Meanwhile the football prophets will say, “There he goes again, pushing the envelope . . . brilliant strategy.” And the game will take whatever shape the pundits and the prophets want it to.
Or maybe the Patriots will lose, and the Super Bowl will become a moral tale, showing that cheaters do not finally win. Wouldn’t that make a lot of haters happy.
I’m not a betting man, but I think the haters will heaving their drinks at the screen come Super Bowl Sunday.