At some point in the past decade or so, merely wagering on the outcomes of Super Bowl games themselves became insufficient and unsatisfactory for the general public - and so bookmakers introduced what we commonly refer to these days as prop bets.
The bookies - whether from Las Vegas, your local neighbourhood, online gambling services or even your favourite government lottery - began to lure extra revenue by giving bettors opportunities to lay down sheckels on props such as the number of passes a quarterback would complete in the Super Bowl or how many tackles a linebacker would record. These were relatively sensible, understandable game-related matters.
Somewhere along the way, however, bookies decided it was prudent to appease degenerates who needed action on virtually anything and everything on Super Bowl Sundays, like the coin toss (heads or tails) or whether a specified kicker would score more points than a specified forward playing in an NHL match at the same time.
Well, prop bets have reached a new high (low?) for this Sunday’s Super Bowl between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. Consider these two props being offered by a handful of books:
A) An over/under (3.5) on how many times the television broadcast will cut to shots of Brenda Warner, wife of Cards QB Kurt Warner.
B) An over/under (nine) on how many times the broadcasters will refer to Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as Big Ben.
Weird, eh? Just think: Folks involved in the broadcast (directors in the case of the Warner prop and announcers in the case of the Roethlisberger one) have complete control over these developments. What’s to prevent them from advising their relatives to bet all they can on the overs, and then ensure they cut to Brenda four times or mention Big Ben 10 times?
And if you doubt this can happen, consider this: A recent survey revealed nobody is less trusted in this world than media types.
• Flakiest players in Sunday’s game:
The kickers, hands down. Or, should I say, feet down?
“I don't know why,” Steelers kicker Jeff Reed divulged, “but I bend down to change the sock on my kicking foot at the start of each quarter.”
Cards kicker Neil Rackers, meanwhile, always eats pre-game meals consisting of spaghetti and precisely three meatballs, which to him represents the number of points he aims to produce on each of his field-goal attempts.
• Sunday may well be the final Arizona appearances for three key offensive players.
Warner, receiver Anquan Boldin and running back Edgerrin James will all be eligible for free agency.
James produced respectably near the end of this season but mostly flopped with the Cards, who’ll likely pursue a younger, cheaper back. Boldin has said he won’t re-sign because, in his view, management lied to him by not following through on a promise to grant him a new contract before the season. Warner thinks the Cards owe him $500,000 from a 2007 incentive and he won’t re-sign unless that’s factored into a new deal.
All three would attract considerable attention on the free-agent market.
Marty York is Metro's national sports columnist as well as an instructor at the College of Sports Media in Toronto. He can be heard regularly on Vancouver radio station CKNW with Sportstalk host Dan Russell. Contact Marty at email@example.com