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PREVIOUS SPORTS
• Sideline: Yes, Non–Conference Games DO Count
• NCAA Preview 2009
• Sideline: Time For The Talking To Stop
• Sideline: In Memory of Air McNair
• Sideline: Will Goodell Hand Out Hard Time?
• Sideline: Marshall's Not Joshing
• NFL Draft: No Rush To Judgment
• NFL Draft Analysis 2009 (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts (Part 2)
• Sideline: NFL Draft Thoughts
• Sideline: Will Play For Food
• Sideline: Wonderlic Scores
• Sideline: Manning and Sanchez
• Sideline: 2010 Leagues Sci–fi, or Fantasy? / March Madness
• Sideline: Break Out The Brackets
• Sideline: LaDainian Tomlinson On The Record
• Sideline: The Incredible Sulk Continues
• Sideline: Guildford Heat Fired Up
• Sideline: Super Bowl thoughts from the Valley of the Sun
• Sideline: I know I came in here for something
• Sideline: College Football National Signing Day
• Sideline: 27 Points — 27 Super Bowl thoughts
• Sideline: An Epic QB Matchup?
• Sideline: Appreciating Arizona for What They Were
• Sideline: NFL Divisional Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Bowl Season Hangover
• Sideline: Six weeks Later
• Sideline: Wildcard Weekend Preview
• Sideline: Santa's Sackings
• Sideline: A Weis Decision ...for Now
• Sideline: Eye on the Ticker
• Sideline: Lions — An Anagram of Losin
• Sideline: Ready for the Turkey
• Sideline: Making it to the Big Dance
• Sideline: Brighter Days Ahead for Chargers?
• Sideline: Unnecessary Hits To The Pocket / Upset: BYU
• Sideline: Romo's Pause / Seattle Seahawks
• Sideline: Weekend Prep: Red River and More
• Sideline: College Football's 'Crossroads' Weekend
• Sideline: Gramatical Error
• Sideline: Turning The Page
• Sideline: So Cal 'Quizzed
• Sideline: 3rd Tuesday Panic / Forté Yard Dash
• Sideline: Two and Oh; Oh and Two
• Sideline: No More NCAAffeine
• Sideline: Week 1 College Football
• Sideline: How To Spell Heisman / Chad Ocho Cinco
• Sideline: A Second Slice
• Sideline: The Favre story STILL won't go away
• Sideline: Olympic Notes / Ricky's Still Relevant
• Sideline: Committee Meetings
• Sideline: Let the QB Battles Begin
• Sideline: Slinging The Slinger — More Favre
• Interview: Clint Dempsey
• Sideline: Welcome to the 2008 season
• Sideline: Plus One
• 2008 NFL Draft Review
• Sideline: Draft: The Morning After
• Sideline: Draft: Thinking the Unthinkable
• Sideline: Draft: Ready For The Long Haul
• Sideline: Sofa–bound Sport
• Sideline: Post–Winter Wonderland
• Sideline: Six Impossible Things
• Sideline: Brady's Misdirection Play
• Sideline: Colorful Language
• Sideline: Let the Romo–bashing begin
• Sideline: Bowl Bites: The Wrap
• Sideline: All About The Coaches
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 3
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 2
• Sideline: Bowl Bites 1
• Sideline: Coach Situations Vacant
• Sideline: For Some, The Playoffs Are Now
• Sideline: A Certain Lack Of Welcome
• Sideline: Unrelated Notes
• Sideline: Two Thanksgiving thoughts
• Sideline: Halftime: NFC
• Sideline: Halftime: AFC
• Sideline: London / A Tale of Two Chads / Intimidation
• Sideline: Damp Squib / Other London Notes
• Sideline: Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em / Dolphins – The Aftermath
• Sideline: The Dolphins Did What?
• Sideline: Notes on the Defenses
• Sideline: Habits to be Broken
• Sideline: Overtime
• Sideline: This Week's Starters
• Sideline: USF: Covering The Spread / Fantastic Football
• Sideline: Grossman: The Final Act? / McNabb, the Epilogue
• Sideline: Eagles QB in Slight Controversy
• Sideline: Leftwich's Parting Gift / Boos cruise
• Sideline: Notre Dame M.I.A.
• Sideline: Looking Beyond NFL Wk. 1
• Sideline: Best Hope For Heisman
• Sideline: Coaching Hot Seats / AP Poll Feeling ’Appy
• Sideline: The NFL’s Prime Cuts
• Sideline: Michigan Falls to Killer Apps
• Sideline: Look Out Couch / The Taint's On You, Bud
SPORTS

SIDELINE
Observations, Opinion & Occasional Silliness by Richard L Gale

Brady's Misdirection Play
February 3, 2008

I have a friend (well, more than one actually) of the type that never met a conspiracy theory he didn't like. Everything is an 'inside job' and the CIA are behind everything. 'Chuck' — not his real name, obviously — is the kind of guy who, if his local supermarket so much as runs low on bottled water, starts to worry that something is afoot and those in the know are hoarding for some cataclysm. At which point he starts hoarding bottled water, of course. (I believe the stock market works on a similar principle).

It's a contagious condition. All it takes is a little suspicion, some cynicism, and the capacity to over–react to inconclusive evidence, and suddenly the signs are everywhere. Problem is, sometimes it's hard to work out what is the conspiracy and what is the smokescreen.

This past week had me down that route with the New England Patriots. We've all seen Tom Brady, triggerman for the seemingly unbeatable Pats wearing a protective boot on his foot while arriving at the door of supermodel girlfriend Gisele Bündchen. Fortunately a photographer was there to catch sight of the boot, which Brady later shed.

The obvious story — at least at first — was that the Patriots were hiding a previously–unknown injury to their star quarterback. Of course, it didn't take long for the more suspicious amongst us to wonder if it wasn't just sand–bagging by the Patriots, eager to suggest that there was some doubt about their reliance on the pass in the forthcoming super bowl. Especially when the boot later vanished. Or does that mean he's still trying to hide the injury?

Of course, conspiracy theory fans have to go a lot deeper than that. For example, this is a star QB visiting his girlfriend the week before the big game; this is what Tony Romo was slated for doing, wasn't it? So, the boot is just Brady's way of diverting attention from an ill–timed romantic liaison that might put him in the way of similar criticism.

Nah, that's far too simple. Brady's boot would, of course, be the perfect distraction to draw attention away from star receiver Randy Moss, who has spent January dealing with an accusation that has resulted in a temporary restraining order against him. Moss has been restrained to one catch in each of the last two Patriots' games. If it weren't for Brady's right ankle, Moss would probably be the number one story. As it is, that lucky snap has stolen all the attention. If it WAS lucky, of course — I mean, what's the chance of a photographer being outside the home of a supermodel who's going out with a super bowl QB? I guess Tom couldn't have known he'd be spotted, right?

And now we have the official NFL injury lists, we can see... NO ankle injury reported for Tom Brady. Just the shoulder injury that troubled him to a record–setting 50 TDs during the regular season. And if there's no ankle injury reported, that means there IS a problem with his ankle, right? At least I think so... erm... sorry, I forgot which end of the conspiracy I'm working here.

Anyway, it's all very suspicious.

As for Chuck's thoughts on the matter, he simply notes that the Patriots dynasty was nothing until the war on terror began. Of all the teams, the "PATRIOTS", you see.

I guess we have the CIA to blame.


TAKING STOCK

Back on Planet Sensible, everybody's making their predictions for the battle of the G–Men and Patriots. Needless to say, the only people picking the Giants are the die–hards and those who want to shout out how smart they are if it actually happens.

The Mystery of Brady's Boot knocked the betting line from 14 points to 11 points, before it bounced back a point, and to me that's still a wide margin for what is, after all, one game for all the marbles. On any given Sunday, remember. For those looking for signs of an upset, here's a bunch:

1. The Giants have just beaten three division winners in a row. They might be the hottest team in football.
2. Overachieving 10–6 team? They didn't lose to anybody who wasn't a playoff contender. And they're 13–6 now.
3. Better QB right now? Eli Manning has thrown for 8 TDs, 1 Int in his last four games. Brady has had a more difficult spell with 10 scores to 5 picks.
4. Hottest star receivers? During this postseason, Burress and Toomer have averaged 132 yards a game combined, Moss and Welker 71 yards a game combined.
5. Pass rush. The Giants have the best pass rush in the NFL, and the Patriots have a pocket passer who isn't much of a scrambler, and who maaaaay have a gimpy foot.
6. The Patriots have everything to lose. Seems like a lot of people already have them as an unbeaten team alongside the '72 Dolphins, as winners of their 4th super bowl. The fear of not accomplishing that must be tremendous, and the much tighter second half of the season compared to their first half may reflect some tightness in the minds of the players underneath their apparent coolness.

So, I'm picking the Giants, right? No, I'm following the flock and taking the Patriots in a close one, maybe by as little as 6 points with a heart–stopping final few seconds. But if the odds are still one–sided enough down at the betting shop this Saturday morning — the way they were in 2002 when I took the Patriots to beat the Rams at 4–1 odds — I might have a 'flutter'. Yes, folks, sports betting is completely legal here as long as you're over 18.

Of course, over in the US, people can still openly chance their assets outside of Nevada, as long as it's on the stock market. In case anybody doesn't know, there's this little stock market quirk called the SBI — the Super Bowl Indicator — which suggests a link between the winner of the Super Bowl to the direction of the markets. Specifically, when the AFC representative wins, the market goes down, and when the NFC team wins, the market goes up. In 32 of the past 41 years, that's been the case.

Judging by the number of Giants' shirt–wearing fans whooping it up on the floor of Friday's stock market, I doubt this year is going to buck the trend if the Giants crash to the Patriots as expected. On the other hand, a feel–good factor in NYC could spill over on Monday morning. It could be something of a self–fulfilling prophecy. The economy NEEDS the Patriots to lose.

Either way, I'll never hear the last of it: Chuck is a New Yorker.


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