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The Super Bowl kicks off here in about seven hours, and there's no one in the Phoenix metropolitan area that I feel more sorry for than the media covering the Patriots. Their day, just like the previous two days, is totally screwed. Their lives and jobs no longer revolve around the team they cover or the chance at 19-0, but around SpyGate, especially after the new allegations about the Patriots' very first Super Bowl win, that someone in their organization taped the Rams' walkthrough the day before that upset.

The first Super Bowl I covered, when I was with the San Francisco Chronicle, was the Raiders-Buccaneers game in San Diego, and Nancy Gay, now the paper's NFL columnist, was then the Raiders' beat writer. She says to this day that it was one of the worst days of her career, because the morning of the game the news broke about Barret Robbins going AWOL in Tijuana, missing all team activities Saturday, showing up drunk that night and being benched for the game. She can barely remember anything from that game because she spent the entire day chasing that story. The staff had a meeting on a concourse of Qualcomm Stadium a few hours before kickoff, and it wasn't even worth it to ask what she might write. She already had spent the whole morning on the phone, and she looked as if someone with a raging case of the flu had sneezed directly into her face.

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As for the rest of us, it was impossible to write a word about the Raiders that day without addressing Robbins, and in the locker room afterward, the players, as hurt as they were about getting drilled, were 10 times more hurt and angry whenever the topic of Robbins came up.

This game today is now officially as much about SpyGate as about any other angle. That stinks for the NFL and for the Patriots, and just as much for the Boston reporters who probably won't see much of tonight's game.

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On the bright side, though, at this moment all the media are being served the single most decadent meal they will consume this year, the pregame brunch. It's such a guilty pleasure, it's actually embarrassing to be part of it. The only competition for that honor? The postgame buffet. This isn't too bad a way to make a living after all.

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