(Author's warning: If you've been whining about being tired of Deflategate and annoyed with pictures of Robert Kraft & Co. on a Steelers site (yet clicked this article anyway... yeah, that makes sense), this article is not for you.)
The NFL has the longest offseason in professional sports with over half of the year inactive. For those of us who aren't fans of the NHL, NBA, MLB or NASCAR (Does that even count as a sport?), the period of time between February and September can be very dark. Many Sunday nights I think back to regular-season Sundays, when I'd look down at my Flaming-Hot-Cheeto-stained fingers, adjust my favorite eating pants, check my Colorado Homebrews standings in my "fantasy" league (I put "fantasy" in quotes because it is just plain offensive. Fantasy football is real), and reflect on a long, awesome day of football. I might even remember to put away the leftover queso dip, or just, what the hell, I'll finish it. (After all, football season is not a time to think about deflating.)
Sure, as I'm shuffling around my kitchen, I'm probably also wishing we had a cornerback who could actually intercept the ball reliably instead of just letting it hit him in the face and fall to the ground like Fritz the Dog catching food, but mostly I'm thinking about the key plays of the day and looking ahead to the next week.
It's May, though, and the season kickoff is still over 100 days away. There is no game day food in my kitchen, and my eating pants and jersey are in my cedar chest.
The off-season is rough, especially post-combine, pre-draft, post-draft and pre-first-pre-season-game. I spent several Sundays after the Super Bowl on the sofa just scrolling through the DirecTV guide, holding on to hope that a live NFL game would magically find itself onto the schedule. Stranger things have happened in football-- like the Seahawks passing the ball on second down instead of handing it off to Marshawn Lynch or Antonio Brown karate kicking Cleveland's punter Spencer Lanning on a return (that was unexpected too). Instead of watching football, my main Sunday activity is taking my Weimardoodles to the dog park. When they don't get enough exercise, their playful interactions start to resemble a Michael Vick-esque dog fight club.
Enter #Deflategate. Suddenly, the NFL is dominating news coverage as if it were September. It is a gift of sorts for this single-sport fan, providing numerous angles on which to ruminate:
1) Will the suspension stand?
2) Just how much has the integrity of the game been compromised?
3) How many times can I work the new definition of "deflate" into conversations this week?
4) How does this change the Steelers' season opener?
5) When does pushing the envelope become overt cheating?
6) How can context change other league infractions (Bell's DUI—was it really Donating Umbrellas to the Infirm?)
7) How is the deflator's diet working out?
8) Hasn't there also been an Article IX violation?
9) Was the Onion behind the rebuttal?
Does Deflategate matter? Yes. Has it received a tiresome amount of coverage? To some extent. Does it provide an outlet for fans-in-waiting during an insanely long offseason? Absolutely.
One reason fans love football is for it's entertainment value and there is no denying that Deflategate has been entertaining.