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On Championship Sunday, A Blowout, A Scandal Brewing And A Game For The Ages


The Super Bowl 49 teams are now set. The Seattle Seahawks got there with a stunning comeback win. The New England Patriots will return to the Super Bowl after a blowout that may not have been sufficiently blown up. Joining me now is Jane McManus of ESPN. Welcome back to the program.


SIEGEL: And the Patriots routed the Indianapolis Colts 45 to 7. But after the game, the NFL was investigating what's now being called deflate-gate. Explain that one.

MCMANUS: That's a very clever name to begin with. The footballs that are used in games, they're supposed to be blown up to specific proportions. If those balls are not where they need to be, there can be a $25,000 fine for altering a football. What happens is that the home team blows up the footballs and then puts them in place - puts the game balls in one spot, puts balls used for kicking in another spot - and then, if anything happens to those, that home team is responsible. And that would be the Patriots in this case.

SIEGEL: And what's the source of the allegation that the ball wasn't as inflated as it should've been?

MCMANUS: Well, you know, the NFL has investigating, and they're being pretty cagey about that. There was a report initially out of Indianapolis that said the investigation was getting started. I think we should be finding more about that, and certainly there's going to be a lot of speculation about it in the two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl.

SIEGEL: It involves the Patriots. And you have to explain that when it comes to the Patriots and allegations of not entirely fair play, there's a history here.

MCMANUS: There certainly is. In 2007, the Patriots were accused of taping Jets' signals, signals that the defensive coaches would use on the sideline. And because of that, the NFL investigated and found that the Patriots had done that. And that is something that has definitely tarnished Belichick's legacy, you know, despite now six Super Bowls that he'll be going to with Tom Brady. I think some people in the NFL public look at that team and don't feel like they've done it on the up and up.

SIEGEL: OK. Let's turn to the other game. True confession right now - the game, obviously being over for all intents and purposes with five minutes left in the fourth quarter, I tuned away. So as come from behind wins in NFL playoff games go, this one would be...

MCMANUS: Right up there. Definitely right up there. Given the short amount of time, I mean, some Seattle fans had already left the building and then came back to kind of watch what was happening through the doors, on some of the monitors - the screen monitors. I mean, this was about as big a comeback as you could get. Seattle was really counted out. Russell Wilson on the sideline, after the game, crying with emotion, just overwhelmed by what had happened.

SIEGEL: OK. Two weeks until Super Bowl 49 in Glendale, Arizona. What are some of the storylines that you are following?

MCMANUS: I'm curious to see how Marshawn Lynch responds on Media Day. He is the running back for Seattle. He is notoriously shy. He does not like talking to the press. Last year, during Media Day, when everybody was up on the podiums talking to everybody, he was trying to hide behind one of the curtains in the media area - and just being swarmed. People were definitely interested in talking to him, but he wanted nothing to do with it. Curious to see, given the fact that he's been fined $100,000 for not talking to the media, if that changes this year.

SIEGEL: I'm deeply impressed that you cover a beat where people can be fined $100,000 for not answering your questions.

MCMANUS: (Laughter) Well, you know, it's part of the job. Part of the job is talking to the media. The NFL is a multibillion-dollar industry. And part of that is that their players are accessible. Their players are human, and their players are accountable to the fans and the public. Part of that is being accountable to the media as well.

SIEGEL: Jane McManus covers the NFL for ESPN. Thanks, Jane.

MCMANUS: Thanks for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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