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Can’t be too careful these days.
Today finds us on the morning of the eve of the eve of the biggest sporting event in country: the NFL/advertising/2-for-1 wing special free-for-all we know as the Super Bowl. While 401Ks dwindle as fast the unemployment rate skyrockets in other parts of the country, in Las Vegas and various offshore outposts, this might as well be Christmas. More money will be laid down on Sunday’s game than any event all year long, and we all know the house always wins. So forget the seven-point spread. If you want your money for nothing, leave the Steelers, the Cardinals and Dick Lebeau’s blitzing schemes to Ron Jaworski.
You want the most absurd plays you can find. They’re known as propositional bets — prop bets for short — and they kick off well before Jeff Reed’s big toe (-115 favorite) meets ceremonial leather.
1. The National Anthem
R&B star Jennifer Hudson gets the honors this year, and the over/under on the length of her rendition is set at 2:03. When the former American Idol performed the anthem at the Democratic National Convention this year she hit "home of the brave" at about the 1:45 mark, but the following succession of woos, whoas and waaaas carried her past two minutes. Anything beyond 2:00 is a big number, but with a Super Bowl audience at her whim, expect Hudson to wail like their hair’s on fire.Three years ago Beyonce threw down the gauntlet with a 2:08. You know Hudson’s gonna be gunning to upstage her former Dreamgirls co-star.
2. The coin toss.
The odds, fittingly, are even. Through 42 Super Bowls, we’ve had 21 come up heads and 21 tails. Last year it was tails. Heads is due.
Which quarterback will John Madden refer to by full name after the opening kickoff? Kurt Warner’s nearly a 2-to-1 favorite here, but it’s worth the meager payout. I’d set the line at three Big Bens before we ever get all five syllables of Ben Roethlisberger.
Bet: Kurt Warner
4. Best commercial
As judged by the annual USA Today Super Bowl ad meter. Anheuser-Busch is the far-and-away favorite, getting 5/6 odds. Take it. Who doesn’t like Clydesdales playing a game of pick-up football?
Bet: Bud. Weis. Er.
5. The Boss
Maybe I’m old fashioned, but for halftime entertainment, give me a pair of marching bands any day over a bloated rock show. It’s a football game, for crying out loud. But since we’re stuck with pop stars, Bruce beats Britney, and I guess we should be happy with that.
Born in the USA is the favorite for first song, but the smart money says Springteen closes with his most widely recognizable tune and opens with the 1975 anthem Born to Run.
Bet: Born to Run. No line on wardrobe malfunctions.
6. Will Matt Millen pick the correct winner during the pregame show?
Probably so, but it’ll be fun to watch the line swing three points in the opposite direction when he makes his pick.
7. Who gets tackled first by their hair?
Larry Fitzgerald is the big favorite, but his locks aren’t as easy to grab as Troy Polamalu’s flowing ‘fro.
Bet: Throw down a little on Troy on the off chance he picks one off.
8. How many food references will Madden make during the broadcast?
Over under is set at 1 1/2. No word on whether a tur-duck-en counts (a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey, a favorite of John’s). Either way, he should clear the number by halftime.
9. Who will the MVP thank first in his post game interview?
Since former Eagles receiver Freddie Mitchell won’t be there to thank his hands "for being so great" (too bad, really), I don’t think you can go against God.
Bet: The Big Guy.
10. Which player is most likely to get arrested before the game?
Even though his team isn’t there, don’t bet against Plaxico Burress. Where there’s a will, there’s a stray (bullet).