St Louis Post-Dispatch

Cocker Spaniel Sheltie mix

NYC PAPERS OUT. Social media use restricted to low res file max 184 x 128 pixels and 72 dpiAre you ready for some fur balls?

Even the most die-hard NFL fan should take a paws from Deflategate to tune in to “Puppy Bowl XI” at 3 p.m. on Super Sunday.

The pedigreed event promises to be Animal Planet’s most tail-wagging time yet. Instead of every mutt fending for itself, the adorable (and adoptable) players are split into two teams — Team Ruff in green and Team Fluff in yellow — for the first time in the game’s 11-year history.

“It’s going to be chaos, ” says the official ruffaree, Dan Schachner, who gave The News a glimpse of the gridiron gang tackling this week by bringing four rescue puppies from the Little Shelter Dog and Cat Adoption Center in Huntington, L.I., to our office for a scrimmage.

The pups stopped the presses as the two cocker spaniels and two pug mixes ran up and down the halls, cuddled with reporters and gnawed on toy footballs.

Puppy Bowl competitors sent shockwaves through the Daily News' office Wednesday with their lovable — and adoptable! — antics. “The one thing that stops an office cold is puppies, ” says Schachner, who’s overseen the canine competition for the past four years.

That goes double for channel surfers. A record-breaking 13.5 million people tuned into “Puppy Bowl’s” marathon 12-hour run last year, and Animal Planet expects an even larger audience this Sunday.

It’s easy to see why. The little pooches visiting The News on Wednesday were a riot. Batman, a 4-month-old black pug mix, kept staring at himself in the mirror. His sister Dolly posed for portraits like a princess while Lily Rose, a 4-month-old cocker spaniel, had her silky ears brushed.

Of course, they can also be a handful. Linelle, a sweet 6-month-old cocker spaniel, peed on one staffer’s leg in her excitement — clearly a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct. Some more surprises were left on the floor. But, hey, that’s football.

“That’s nothing, ” sniffs the ref, who says he always has a spare uniform in case of accidents. And he’s had plenty. “Puppies terrorize me, ” he says, “climbing all over me, tearing my socks apart, tearing my whistle off. If you can imagine it, they’ve probably done it.”

James Keivom/New York Daily News
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