Almost A Super Bowl Oddity This Time

It doesn’t happen all that often and it almost happened this year. When the Giants beat the Packers to advance to the Super Bowl, the Giants prevented a game in which the opposing teams would both start quarterbacks who had previously won the Super Bowl. Unless I have miscounted, that has only happened three times in the history of 42 Super Bowl contests. Terry Bradshaw’s Steelers played Roger Staubach’s Cowboys in 1976 and in 1979; in both of those games the quarterbacks were previous winners. Then in 1984, Joe Theismann’s Redskins met Jim Plunkett’s Raiders. I do not think there were any other games with that kind of match-up. We came close to seeing one this year, but it was not meant to be…

Trend players wish it would have happened because that would have given them the key to the game. When games involve two quarterbacks who have previously won the Super Bowl, the AFC team has always won. Ergo…

The wagering record in Nevada – the only place where there is an audited total – on a Super Bowl game was two years ago (Seattle/Pittsburgh). That game handled $94.5M in the sportsbooks in Nevada. Based on early wagering and the intense following that both the Giants and Patriots bring to all of their games – let alone a Super Bowl – this one projects to blow away that record. One “expert” said that a handle of $110M was possible this year.

You would think that with a handle that large, the point spread would be very stable; in physics, that is called inertia. However, the early money came in on the Giants in great preponderance and dropped the line. A group called Las Vegas Sports Consultants Inc. suggested a 14-point line when the betting opened; most books opened there or at 13.5. When the tsunami of Giants’ money came in the line dropped to 12 in most of the places that I looked last week. At the moment, the line is 11.5 just about everywhere.

For those folks who took 14 points last Monday, there ought to be a small temptation to try to “middle” the game by giving 11.5 points now. If they did that and the game winds up with a Pats’ win by 12 or 13 points, they would collect both bets. If it winds up with a Pats win at 14 points, they win one bet and push the other. All other outcomes mean that they win one and lose the other – meaning they lose the 10% vigorish. Middles are difficult to come by with two target points in any game. I do not recall a Super Bowl where that was a possibility.

The Super Bowl is an economic engine well beyond the wagering “industry” in Nevada and the wagering “underground” at your local watering hole. According to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, the Super Bowl will generate $10B in sales this year. Take a moment and think about that for a moment. That is almost 7% of the “economic stimulus package” that the Congress and the White House are trying to put into effect while each one claims the credit for taking action over the dead bodies of their political opponents. This single football game will generate 7% of that economic action despite the action or inaction of those politicos. So, how come none of those geniuses who have all the answers to everything has thought to pass a law mandating more Super Bowl games as a way to stimulate the economy? Now there’s “change” I could get behind very easily…

According to the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association, the $10B in sales is not just beer and chips and salsa and guacamole (although this weekend does have to be the high water mark for the avocado growers of the world) and chicken wings. According to these folks, there will also be an upswing in sales of big screen TVs and furniture in anticipation of /preparation for the game and its associated parties. Another organization – BIG Research – projects that as many as 4 million people plan to buy a larger screen TV this year in time to watch the game.

By the way, the Retail Advertising and Marketing Association generates the acronym RAMA. Do you think they have ever had the urge to merge with some other organization to create something known as RAMA-LAMA-DING-DONG? Probably not…

Of course, there are the new advertisements that will roll out during the Super Bowl game. For the past few years, I think the “creative folks” at lots of ad agencies have gone off the deep end and tried excessively hard to be edgy. They seem to be “creative for the sake of creativity” and not entertaining or memorable. At the moment, the Budweiser folks are using a set of ads where this annoying dude – the Budweiser Lager Man – lectures us about how difficult it is to make an American lager. Yeah, right; it used to be made in bathtubs…

I might actually start drinking one of the Budweiser products if they would bring back Louie the Lizard and his frog buddies. Those were the most entertaining commercials that came out of the Super Bowl as far as I am concerned.

So, as the sporting world ramps up to the Super Bowl game, out there on the horizon something called the AAFL is about to begin. This is the All American Football League and it will be a pro league that plays in the spring. The concept behind the league is interesting. All players must have graduated from college; that means Joe Namath is now eligible to play here because he just got his degree from Alabama last year. Additionally, teams are located in areas where college football dominates the sporting scene and many of the players on the teams will come from colleges in those areas. For example, one team from Florida will play its games at The Swamp and hopes to have Florida alums, Chris Leak and Chris Doering on the field – among others.

In a related note, Peter Warrick was recently cut from the Las Vegas Gladiators of the Arena League. Were he to be drafted by the AAFL, that might provide an insight into the current pecking order of pro football:

    1. NFL

    2. CFL

    3. Arena League

    4. AAFL

The AAFL initial draft will be 50 (that is fifty) rounds long and each team has 18 “protected players” from their local areas. Training camp will begin in March and the opening kickoff to a 10-game season will be in April. And so, come the summer the AAFL will have a championship game. If the league succeeds, maybe this is the start of “another Super Bowl” to provide another economic stimulus in the early summer months? If so, you can be sure that the politicians will take credit for the economic benefits it might provide.

Of course, history is not on the side of the AAFL. The USFL, the WFL and the XFL have all tried to find a niche in the football landscape but it hasn’t worked. I like the AAFL concept of “local interest teams”. If they can avoid the temptation to try to compete with the NFL – even by overlapping the NFL Exhibition Season – they might survive. If they decide to “big time it” and play in the fall, they are doomed.

Finally, with the Super Bowl game approaching and with all the hyperbole that is associated with the teams and the game, it is appropriate to put the game into perspective. Duane Thomas was a very good running back with the Cowboys and Redskins back in the 1970s. He was also a person who saw the world from a perspective of reality and spoke his mind. Just prior to Super Bowl VI, Duane Thomas said:

“If it’s the ultimate game, how come they’re playing it again next year?”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports…

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