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DeflateGate!

Does it matter? In a superficial way, yes. In another and huge way, it's the tunnel entrance the NFL would spend a lot to avoid

This is Dark Cloud on Wednesday, January 28, 2015.

Twenty-nine years ago this morning, I was at home in the Boulder Theater when Karen Telleen dropped by and told me the Challenger Shuttle had just blown up. You are remembered.

More important, though, the High Holy Days of Testosterone and Doritos are upon us: Yes, the Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the Boston Patriots. Children yet to be born will go through life damned with the names of players and coaches from this momentous event, and to the future Sheldon Seahawk Superbowl 49 Smiths of the world - or at least Seattle - my condolences.

I suspect, not without reason, that the Superbowl and pro football in general are not frequent topics of conversation with a majority of KGNU listeners. No implication you're not athletic or interested in sports but because the National Football League is a prime example of a corporate horror. It somehow got tax free status, has become a marketing powerhouse, and controls the weekend and prime time television schedule during its season. It's championship game is the most watched program in this nation and many others, although soccer has many more theoretical viewers. The Superbowl has far and away the most expensive ad buy, and is something of a trend setter. The pay for NFL players is horrendously high, but not in proportion to what the league and owners receive. Regardless, there it is this Sunday.

But gasp! What shadow through yonder window dampens the enthusiasm, the willingly naive belief in athletic integrity? It is a Patriot football, and it is deflated a tad. In their game against the Indianapolis Colts a few weeks back, the Patriots won by about 450 points, it seemed like, but of the twelve balls it is required to keep ready to go in the game, eleven of them were found to be somewhat under the required pressure. This can be important, in that if the fingers can sink into the ball more, you have more security and control when throwing or carrying it, and this is an advantage to the offense. Tom Brady, the remarkable Patriot quarterback, has said he likes the football at the lowest possible legal pressure. Given he generally plays in New England, where today it's 18 degrees with three feet of wet snow in the relaxing breeze of a Force 94 nuclear powered wind tunnel, you can understand why. A football that cold must feel like an oblong grenade weighing 45 pounds. The ice on its exterior does not aid accurate passing. So, how did this occur if not by cheating?

Brady and Coach Bellicheck of the Patriots do not have criminal records, but there is reason for concern. They win a lot, year after year, and that implies cheating to those who do not win much at all. But, they've been caught doing some illegal and sleazy things, from spraying silicone on their uniforms so defense players hands slip off - which was then legal - to videotaping practice sessions of opponents, a major no-no for which they were caught and fined. Bellichek's offensive coordinator, Josh McDaniels, was for a time a head coach of the Denver Broncos, and he was caught and fined doing the same thing as his former boss: recording the practices of opponents. Along with a losing record, it got him fired in Denver but for the last few years he's been back as offensive coordinator with the Patriots and Brady. McDaniels idolizes Bellichek, and there is a consistent stream of incidents pushing the envelope of what is fair between them.

The NFL has had a bad year, with a seeming Player of the Week arrested for rape or sexual assault, a horrible record with concussions and withholding medical information from players in the past till very recently, and a long smoldering suspicion that game results are not always honest. There is no question that the NFL is huge friend to gambling interests, which extend from the big and legal gambling houses in Vegas and elsewhere to Jimmy Knuckles, collecting debts from idiots. Fantasy football has extended the gambling possibilities, made it Family Friendly to bet with the Mafia as well as peers.

Further, as in other sports, there are way too many head slapping bad calls made by the referees, in turn made worse by Instant Replay, which shows what happened long before the beefy sportscasters realize it and shake their wattles. There is the oppressive feeling of a huge, long festering gambling scandal in pro football and in its college farm system. And while Deflategate keeps few of us up all night, it may well be the amusing entrance to a stable long in need of cleansing. If so, good.