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Where are we in the Leicester City media cycle? Every underdog story has four stages. They are:

1) Aberration: when things are too early. A team that is top of the league in September? BFD. No story. Won’t last.

2) Disbelief: is when things have gone on too long for it to be ignored, but no-one can take it properly seriously. The wheels are going to fall off at some point, surely? This can’t go on.

3) Over-hype: it could really happen. It might actually happen. It’s going to happen. It would be a fairytale! Dreams come true. One in the eye for all the big money sides. Note: at this point, there are lots of writers who either go into meta-analysis of all this (including this post, of course), or go contrarian and stick to the disbelief narrative. The longer it goes on, the harder it gets to stay immune from the excitement.

4a) Hindsight is at the end of the season when the underdog club don’t win. Of course they were never going to do it. What were we thinking? Dreams don’t come true. Money talks.
4b) Canonisation is the less-likely alternative, and is the reaction to the underdog actually winning. Reams of stuff about how it makes you believe in miracles, the country needed a boost, MBEs all round. Recent scandals (sex tapes, racism?) are conveniently forgotten about.

We have just switched from disbelief to over-hype. It will hit another level if Leicester beat Arsenal this weekend. Brace yourself.

Fewer stories this week, but all highly recommended. 

Paul O’Connell: farewell to a true Irish rugby icon. He might have looked the part of the scary second-row forward, but O’Connell, who retired from rugby this week, was a man who could bring tears to the eyes with his dressing-room speeches. “We all have our time and then our time is up and everyone gets a little bit sad because it’s over, but we’re the lucky ones to have had that time in the first place.” 

Jordan Spieth and the putting revolution. Spieth has recalibrated what it is to be disappointed on the green. Extraordinary.

The evolution of the Super Bowl halftime show. For 50 years, the Super Bowl halftime show has been the biggest – and weirdest – gig in show business. Michael Jackson, Britney Spears, Madonna, Beyoncé, Bruno Mars, and Katy Perry, sure. But do you remember Up With People?

Inside Peyton Manning’s secret investigation into Al Jazeera documentary. Peyton Manning may have just won the Super Bowl, but the HGH story isn’t going to go away. Here’s the inside track via the WashPo.  Talking of which, if you don’t like Manning, you’re not alone.

Tennis is close to star-vacuum crisis. Roger Federer’s knee surgery caught the tennis world by surprise. Combined with Nadal and the Williams sisters, that’s 59-slams-worth of star material close to the end of their careers. What happens next?

If you don’t know what Mankading in cricket is (and why it’s so controversial) read this. Tony Cozier gives a recent and historical run-down of running out the non-striking end batsman, how it fits with the spirit of the game, and points out a few hypocrisies along the way.

Where have all the blood-sweat-and-tears football captains gone? With John Terry nearly done, a new era is emerging.  The Captain, Leader, Legend species seems under threat. Is that a bad thing?

That’s it – see you next week.