It was a propaganda of props, as bookmakers all over town scrambled to offer customers their version of a Vegas buffet of betting opportunities for Sunday’s Super Bowl. What started as a novelty in the mid 80’s has evolved into something bigger than the buffet line at Bellagio.
As many bettors could be seen pondering over the multiple pages of proposition betting sheets at various venues, ticket writers had to put their teaching caps on as the public struggled to make heads or tails with the hundreds of choices available to them at most of the major casinos.
Speaking of heads or tails, when Seattle’s Grant Wistrom called out ‘tails’ prior to first time Super Bowl referee Bill Leavy’s coin flip, the proposition dash was off, and a few dog bettors rejoiced, as at least one book established ‘heads’ a 7-5 favorite to be selected by the designated team captain.
When Pittsburgh made its’ way to the shadow of the Seattle’s goal line in the second quarter, bettors could be heard urging coach Bill Cowher to ‘Give it to the Bus’ as Jerome Bettis was a 5-1 choice, give or take, to score the game’s first touchdown.
Bettors got their wish but not the desired result as Ben Roethslisberger scored on a controversial bootleg after two failed Bettis attempts into the middle of the line. Those that chose Roethslisberger scored big at odds ranging from 12 to 30 to 1, depending on which casino they placed their wager, though Big Ben would disappoint on all of his yardage and completion props which were driven up sharply by the players in expectation of a big game by the second year QB out of Miami of Ohio.
Bettis, by the way, would later provide some redemption as he eclipsed both his yardage and carries milestones late in the game, finishing with 43 yards on 14 attempts. Both props carried huge public support as the bettors played into the theory that Cowher would favor the Bus over Willie Parker in his sendoff game in his home city. They were right as Parker’s number was called but 10 times.
Virtually all major running props went to the over as both quarterbacks, as well as Shawn Alexander, Bettis, and Willie Parker hit their yardage milestones, the latter on the strength of a record breaking 75-yard scamper early in the second half.
One of the days biggest disappointments had to be bestowed upon those that took Darrell Jackson over six catches. The Seahawk receiver chalked up three catches on the games’ first four plays, and had tallied five with over six minutes left in the second quarter, besides having one nullified on the strength of a very shaky offensive interference infraction. Jackson looked poised to threaten the Super Bowl record of 11 catches shared by New England’s Deion Branch and former Bengal Dan Ross. Not so fast. From that point, Jackson was completely shut down as Bobby Engram became the ‘go to guy’. Engram finished with six catches and easily exceeded the four catches needed to cash a winning ticket.
Those that took Jerome Bettis ‘over’ on catches (.5) would argue that they suffered the days’ biggest screwing, as the Bus hauled in a five-yard pass late in the second quarter, only to have it voided by an offensive interference penalty against TE Heath Miller, who himself was held without a catch, which proved profitable to the house as bettors expected a big game out of the first year player out of Virginia.
Cheers and jeers erupted when Josh Brown’s 47-yard field goal with only seconds to go in the first quarter split the uprights, as first score, first field goal, longest field goal, and a number of quarter props were decided, not to mention the pain inflicted upon those that thought they were fortunate enough to get 0-0 in their box pool. Those that wagered on a call being overturned can only thank the culmination of a poor day of officiating for referee Bill Leavy and crew when Matt Hasselback’s fumble was reversed as he was ruled down by contact after an 18-yard scramble with 8:40 remaining in the game.
When it was all said and done some 500 proposition wagers were decided on this Super Bowl Sunday, with many of the individual books offering well into the hundreds. Credit to Coast Casinos, and the Palms for offering 20-cent lines on most of their props, thus affording the bettor the best bang for his buck. Both venues also extended their limits into the several thousands for those confident and willing enough to step up.
The award for creativity goes to the Palms, which posted props that paired players from this year’s game with those from Super Bowl XIV, which matched the Vince Ferragamo led Rams against the Steelers and Terry Bradshaw, a game that the Steelers won 31-19.
Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, and Mel Blount, were paired off against Roethlisberger, Bettis, Hines Ward, and Chris Hope. As if there wasn’t enough to ponder already.
I don’t know if the buffet line at Bellagio can get any bigger, but as for the props, I can’t wait until next years spread. Bring it on!