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2/3/06 10:21 PM
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Edited: 03-Feb-06
Member Since: 06/08/2002
Posts: 4932

By DAVID SCOTT , February 03rd 2006 

Among the major events of the late 1970s were the seizure of the United States Embassy and the taking of American hostages in Iran. Also in the news was the Three Mile Island nuclear power plant accident, the birth of the first "Test Tube" baby and the soaring of interest rates to 20 percent.

Of course, to the gridiron bettor, those headlines pale in comparison to the most truly remarkable development of the era, the introduction of proposition wagering on the Super Bowl.

For those of you too young to recall that Paul McCartney was in a band before Wings, yes, there really was a time when Super Bowl wagering was confined to betting on the pointspread. A bit later, some ambitious oddsmakers added totals and money lines, followed by first and second half prices and a limited number of other new wagers. Nowadays, it can be difficult to find the spread among all the proposition clutter that, like the innovative TV commercials that will be launched on Sunday's broadcast, have become a Super Bowl staple.

I'm not sure how many props are available this year. However, it took 57 pages of Quill premium, 8 1/2" X 11" paper just to print those listed by five licensed books. Did a tree really have to die for this?

Most books engaging in proposition puffery are offering a myriad of individual, team and pointspread proposals, including the most popular prop of all, choosing which of more than a dozen listed players will score the game's first touchdown. This isn't exactly brain surgery, so it's usually the star running back on the favored team who boasts the lowest odds.

However, the 7/2 favorite this Super Bowl is League MVP Shaun Alexander, who scored a record 27 TDs during the regular season. Since the underdog is less likely to notch a TD before the favorite, it's a tad unusual that the favorite plays for Seattle.

The "field" was made the 9/2 second choice at a majority of books surveyed, while Steelers short yardage specialist Jerome Bettis is next in line at odds of 5/1. Pittsburgh pass catcher Hines Ward and Seattle receiver Darrell Jackson each are rated a 7/1 chance to get the game's first six points. The very brave can get odds of 75/1 that no touchdown is scored in Super Bowl XL.

I counted propositions involving more than 50 players, including some--Robbie Tobeck, Kendall Simmons, Deshea Townsend, Larry Foote, Ricardo Colcough, and Clark Haggans, to name a half-dozen--who weren't even selected in my fantasy league.

There are props on whether the Steelers and Seahawks will score or punt the ball first; whether each team will score in each quarter; whether there'll be a fourth down conversion try, along with how many players have a rushing attempt and how many catch a pass.

Another book has over/under wagers for each team on the total number of field goals that are attempted, made and missed, as well as the total number of third down conversions, penalties, recovered fumbles, tackles and first downs.

One can wager on whether Seattle ever has the lead and which of the four quarters produces the most points.

As Neil Armstrong can attest, being first matters. Accordingly, some books are offering propositions on which team will score first, which team makes the initial first down, which gets the first quarterback sack, which nails a coffin corner punt (inside the 10-yard line) first, and which is the first to recover a fumble.

There's action on which is the first team to cross midfield, the first to enter the Red Zone and the first to have a goal-to-go situation. One can wager on which team draws the initial penalty of the game, which is the first to punt, which will call for the first fair catch, which is first to call a timeout and which is the first to use a coach's challenge.

There also are a series of "more" bets, including which team will have more penalty yards, more time of possession, more turnovers, and more punts.

Some props come from the fertile imagination of bookmakers, including whether either team will score three unanswered times in the game (PAT conversions do not count), whether both teams will have the lead in the first half, whether there will be a lead change in the second half and whether the game will be tied after the first score.

At one sports book, one can lay $115 to win $100 that the player who scores the last TD is wearing an odd numbered jersey or $115 to win $100 that he's wearing an even-numbered jersey. Strangely, it's minus $120 that the player scoring the first TD has an odd numbered jersey but only minus $110 that he's dressed in an even-numbered shirt. Go figure.


2/3/06 10:21 PM
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Edited: 03-Feb-06
Member Since: 06/08/2002
Posts: 4933

Interestingly, for all the attention proposition betting receives, it only represents about 15 percent of the total wagering pie. So, if you want to be one of the masses, you could just bet the side.

But what fun would that be?


A man has 50-yard line tickets for the Super Bowl. As he sits down, a teenager comes down the aisle and asks if anyone is sitting in the seat next to him.

"No," he says, "The seat is empty."

"This is incredible," says the teenager. "Who in their right mind would have a seat like this for the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, and not use it?"

"Well, actually, the seat belongs to me. I was supposed to come with my wife, but she passed away. This is the first Super Bowl we haven't been to together since we got married."

"Oh, I'm sorry to hear that," says the teenager. "That's terrible. But couldn't you find someone else, a friend or relative, or even a neighbor to take the seat?"

The man shakes his head. "No, they're all at the funeral."

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