Without great teams, big game all about Deflategate

In theory, the Super Bowl is a clash of titans, a riveting championship showdown between the NFL’s two elite teams.

In reality, this Super Bowl is not that.

Not even close.

Seattle is not a great team. Neither is New England.

History will not remember the winner among the finest to ever hoist the Lombardi Trophy. And unless you happen to be a fan of one or the other, there isn’t much, on the surface, to get excited about.

Most of the country hates the Patriots. Most of the rest of it cares little about the Seahawks. Nothing about either resembles “America’s Team.”

But, alas. Deflategate is upon us, so the Super Bowl won’t be devoid of drama, after all. There is a storyline. Not the most compelling, perhaps, but still a storyline.

Or at least, it’s the one still playing out more than a week after the AFC Championship Game — streaming now from Phoenix, where the conversation is centered on whether the Patriots used underinflated footballs during their 45-7 trashing of the Indianapolis Colts.

Brace yourself for more. The story’s not going away. It’s the hottest topic surrounding an otherwise lukewarm Super Bowl pairing.

And that’s too bad. Because upon further review, there really is more substance to this game than Deflategate.

Love the Patriots or loath them, care about the Seahawks or no, thrilling matchup or ho-hummer, historic implications are on the line.

So for a moment, forget Deflategate.

There’s more to this game than that.

For Tom Brady and Russell Wilson, Super Bowl XLIX could be the end of an era and the ushering in of a new.

Brady is playing in his sixth Super Bowl. He’s won three, is a three-time MVP and, at age 37, could well be taking center stage for the last time.

By contrast, Wilson is playing in his second straight Super Bowl. He’s won one, is positioned to win another and, at age 26, could be the next great champion quarterback of his generation.

Then there is, of course, the Patriots’ legacy. They are in the Super Bowl for the eighth time, tying Dallas and Pittsburgh for the most appearances.

By any measure, that’s a dynasty. New England is trying to add another layer to it.

Seattle, meanwhile, is in the Super Bowl for the third time and is trying to become its first repeat champion since, well, New England in 2005.

Win or lose, Seattle — with Wilson only in his third season — is in the fledgling stage of dynasty building. Another championship would go a long way in strengthening the foundation.

But with or without historic subplots, and with or without dominant teams, Super Bowl XLIX could be the sort of game last year’s championship final was not: It could be darned fun to watch.

Super Bowls involving Brady and the Patriots usually are. They have done everything from win thrillers on last-second field goals to lose heartbreakers on last-minute drives.

Sadly, not a lot is being made of this particular pairing and its potential to entertain. What we have instead is Deflategate, an overinflated story that is — and always will be — the story of this Super Bowl. Especially if the Patriots win.

Are there enough asterisks in the universe if they do? Doubtful.

But until or unless something more scintillating happens in Phoenix, that’s going to be the story — and legacy — of Super Bowl XLIX: Deflategate.

Without great teams, it’s tough to beat a great Patriots’ scandal when there’s a Super Bowl to hype.

Rick Morwick is sports editor of the Daily Journal. He can be reached at rmorwick@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.