Obama predicts Super Bowl will ‘be close,’ says ‘deflate-gate’ did not help Patriots

Olivier Knox
Chief Washington Correspondent
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Obama Super Bowl for Knox

President Barack Obama tosses a football in the Oval Office, Jan. 6, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama refused Sunday to forecast whether the Seattle Seahawks or the New England Patriots would win Super Bowl XLIX, but he predicted the big game “is going to be close.” In an interview with NBC, Obama also dismissed “deflate-gate,” saying underinflated footballs had nothing to do with the outcome of the AFC title game.

“The Patriots were going to beat the Colts regardless of what the footballs looked like,” said Obama, who expressed surprise that each team provides its own footballs.

“I’m assuming one of the things the NFL is going to be doing, just to avoid any of these controversies, is figure out how the officials are in charge of the footballs from start to finish,” the president said.

Asked what could happen if an ongoing investigation finds that New England cheated, Obama largely sidestepped the issue, saying: “I think that if you break the rules, you break the rules.”

The president’s comments came during what has become his traditional interview with the network broadcasting the Super Bowl.

“Since my Bears are not in it, I think it’s always wise for me not to choose a team, because then I alienate one big city,” Obama said when asked to predict a winner.

“But I will say that it’s going to be close, and the question I have is whether Seattle’s secondary is healthy enough. That’s the heart and soul of their team, and they’ve got three guys back there who are hurt. I don’t know how that’s going to affect the game,” he said.

Turning to politics, Obama dismissed criticisms that the proposals he has laid out since Republicans routed his Democrats in November aren’t going anywhere, saying his job is “not to trim my sails.”

In a lightning round-style questioning session, Obama was asked whether he preferred football or basketball. “I’m still a basketball guy, but I love football.”

Offense or defense? “Always offense.”

Wings or chips and guacamole? “Chips and guac’. I’m a fanatic about guac’.”

Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden? “Whoa. Good try.”