Greg Cote

Greg Cote: Deflategate will dominate the talk at Super Bowl

Souvenirs: Wilson Sporting Goods provides replica Super Bowl 49 footballs at the NFL Experience.
Souvenirs: Wilson Sporting Goods provides replica Super Bowl 49 footballs at the NFL Experience. AP

Super Bowl With a Smirk is back with a daily prodding and poking of the self-important NFL and the gravitas of its big game. Flying under the banner, “Make Fun, Not War,” Smirk is an annual Super Bowl Week feature in the Miami Herald, except in years we forget to do it.

US Airways Center in Phoenix, where the Suns play basketball, will host Tuesday’s “Media Day” event that ceremoniously kicks off the week’s excessive coverage leading to Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Deflatriots.

Thousands of sports writers, columnists, talking heads and bloggers will show up bearing large sticks they will use to beat the dead horse named “Deflategate,” the story of slightly underinflated footballs that has transmogrified into a national scandal because sports journalists are lazy and a dead horse just sits there waiting for you.

Indicative of that, we love referring to any scandal as something-“gate,” don’t we? (“You’re welcome,” said the ghost of Richard Nixon.)

Whether Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and the Patriots are cheaters will be the clear media-theme winner this week. For the record, both deny all wrongdoing. Belichick is now vague on whether he even attended last week’s game.

Otherwise, the only story that can come close to competing with Deflategate this week is the anticipated misbehavior of Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch, who is prone to drawing NFL fines for blowing off mandated news conferences and obscenely grabbing his crotch.

“There have been 48 Super Bowls,” an historian of the game told Smirk, “but this is the first ever whose two main story lines were crotch-grabbing and deflated balls.”

I don’t wanna say beleaguered NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is embarrassed, but he’s walking around Phoenix this week disguised in a giant Duck Dynasty beard and longingly recalling the Super Bowl Week tempest two years ago over deer antler spray as the good old days.

Cannot confirm rumors Goodell is quietly trying to arrange a well-timed player arrest this week as a welcome diversion.

▪ The Public Religion Research Institute reports 25 percent of Americans believe God will determine the outcome of the Super Bowl, while another 14 percent think God let the air out of those footballs.

▪ Former Dolphin Garo Yepremian, on his infamous Super Bowl pass: “42 years later I realize I should have deflated the ball to get a better grip on it.”

▪ This year’s Pro Bowl was “unconferenced.” But one thing hasn’t changed. It’s still “uninteresting.”

▪ Once again Super Bowl TV commercials are as highly anticipated as the game itself, according to advertising executives. Smirk got a sneak peek and was especially moved by the Budweiser ad in which a team of rabid Clydesdales attacks and devours a straw hat-wearing donkey.

▪ One more spoiler alert: There’s a Victoria’s Secret ad that really pushes the boundaries. It might seem odd, 93-year-old Betty White in a sheer negligee, but here’s the kicker: She pulls it off.

▪ Twitter is estimating 25.7 million tweets will be sent during the Super Bowl. And that’s just from Bomani Jones.

▪ The NFL Experience interactive theme park runs all this week at Phoenix Convention Center. They try to give you a real taste of what it’s like to be an NFL player, so this year fans can experience being led away in handcuffs in a simulated arrest for a domestic disturbance.

▪ The league named its seven-man Super Bowl officiating crew led by referee Bill Vinovich, and nobody outside of those men’s immediate families really cared.

▪ The NFL has issued a warning regarding counterfeit Super Bowl tickets. Folks, if the Super Bowl ticket you are being offered seems exceptionally small and is imprinted with the words “Muvico” and American Sniper … it could be a fake.

▪ EA Sports’ 12th annual Super Bowl simulation on the Madden ’15 video game (it’s 8-3 on predicting winners) had Patriots winning 28-24. With the outcome settled, the NFL in turn quietly canceled Sunday’s actual game in a cost-cutting measure.

Super Bowl security on Sunday will include more than 40 different federal, state and local law enforcement agencies as well as a deployment of F-17 fighter jets from the North American Aerospace Defense Command — and that’s just to make sure the footballs aren’t tampered with.