Media, pundits and the populace pump up Deflategate

Everybody has been squeezing the Patriots’ deflated balls all week.

Never has a shrinkage issue gone this viral.

It’s all people are talking about. The issue has paralyzed America like a continental-wide tsunami of a killer snowstorm.

It was amazing that when Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were proclaiming that they, much like Sgt. Schultz, know nussink about how Deflategate went down, they didn’t do so with high-pitched, squeaky voices.

With their balls on the line, did anybody actually expect either to fess up? C’mon, get real.

In a country where almost everybody could give a damn less about the PSI level of their tires, everybody suddenly is an expert on deflation and inflation.

Did they all take a quickie online graduate course in voodoo economics?

Personally, if it weren’t the Patriots involved, this story would not have swelled bigger than a blowfish.

But New England’s Evil Empire/KGB-villain persona has, pardon the pun, overinflated this narrative to absurd proportions.

Still, we all are deliriously curious about who screwed with the balls and who told them to do so.

Two things to keep in mind that actually make this story – matters of integrity and fair play aside – much ado about nothing: Underinflated footballs can be thrown more accurately, which obviously is a good thing, but they also lose velocity, which obviously is a bad thing when a quarterback is trying to rifle the ball into a tight and closing window.

Nevertheless, teams always are looking for a competitive advantage and messing with ball inflation has been commonplace in football and basketball over the years.

During the heyday of their hot-as-blacktop-under-a-summer-sun NBA rivalry, the fastbreak Lakers overinflated balls and the plodding Celtics underinflated balls.

Ever since Ty Cobb was sliding his spikes into second basemen’s faces, baseball teams have been stealing signs and growing infield grass giraffe-high against certain opponents.

Perhaps there is something to that old adage that if you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying.

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NCAA’s restoration of Paterno’s 111 victories rights a wrong

Once upon a time, Joe Paterno was a hallowed icon.

The Jerry Sandusky sex scandal at Penn State smothered JoePa’s legacy.

The NCAA, with thunderbolts of emotion and pious soliloquies resonating throughout the land at the time, piled on with the ultimate cheap shot by stripping Paterno of 111 wins.

What happened on the football field had absolutely nothing to do with what happened off the field.

Recruiting violations can alter the course of a football game. The Sandusky garbage did not.

Today the NCAA restored those 111 wins, restoring Paterno as the winningest coach in major college football history.

Redemption now is floating in the air above Happy Valley like a sweet smog.

Questions abound about how quickly and effectively Marcus Mariota will transition to the NFL

The world wasn’t knocked off its axis today when Oregon junior quarterback Marcus Mariota declared for the 2015 NFL draft.

The world already knew that it was a given, much like the weather always sucks in the winter around here.

That decision, a surprise or not, will ramp up the rhetoric among Eagles fans about whether the Birds should trade their first-round pick each of the next 10 years, plus Shady McCoy, to Tampa Bay and move up from the 20th spot in the first round and land the Heisman Trophy winner who cut his Oregon teeth playing for Chip Kelly.

With Kelly newly installed as the personnel guru in Philadelphia and the team’s quarterback situation more shaky than a jackhammer on amphetamines, the speculation undoubtedly will be ingesting more steroids than A-Rod ever did.

Granted, Mariota is a dynamic athlete with excellent top-end speed. He is elite at throwing on the run and has a quick, compact over-the-shoulder release. He has all the physical tangibles – arm strength, mobility and intelligence. Plus he has a great smile and is kind to his mother and cats.

And he obviously knows Kelly’s offensive playbook chapter and verse and has a fast-twitch tempo stitched into his quarterback DNA. You should see how fast the kid brushes his teeth and sorts his socks.

But buyer beware: The kid, like most college spread offense quarterbacks, is a project.

He didn’t have to make NFL-type throws in the Ducks’ scheme. He didn’t take snaps from under center. He primarily only had to make one read. He likely will struggle reading NFL defenses in the beginning. They will seem like a foreign language to him.

And Mariota does struggle at times with his anticipation and accuracy when passing from the pocket — the most important ingredient for an NFL quarterback. That could be a red flag big enough to incite any bull.

And Mariota is prone to putting the ball on the ground. Talk about a big oops.

So even if the Eagles pull off an astonishing coup and move heaven and earth, not to mention a platoon of bodies and picks to pluck Mariota, it’s a long shot that the kid will be an immediate savior.

And it’s hardly a lock that he will become the Messiah after a prolonged baptism of fire.