Super Bowl media week drags on with an Artie Lange-midwifed homophobia burp from the San Francisco 49ers’ Chris Culliver and I couldn’t be more aggressively bored. In fact, just to shove this story up its own ass right from the outset, check out Lange’s reaction to Culliver right as he realizes this kid really is going to light into gay people in front of a camera and a hot mic:
He can barely contain his internet traffic boner. The clicks! Oh, the clicks! Now Culliver has apologized and we can move on to a more important topic:
Slate’s Hang Up and Listen podcast this week features an interview with the Sporting News’ David Purdum, a man who appears to be the outlet’s gambling correspondent. They discuss a number of angles on sports betting, including debunking the weird rumor that Vegas lost money overall during this football season, the most important of which I felt was a too-brief history of prop betting. A prop bet is, if you ask me, the more fun, hotter cousin of the normal sports bet. Instead of betting on a given team to win, a prop bet allows the bettor to put money on which player will score first, what team will win the coin toss, what color the Gatorade will be when its dumped on the winning coach. Purdum and the Hang Up crew trace the origin of prop betting back to the 1986 Super Bowl and the Chicago Bears’ William “The Refrigerator” Perry. Defensive tackle Perry (hitting you at 6’2″ / 330 in the mid-80s) was known to play a little running back. So Vegas put up a prop bet on whether or not Perry would moonlight on offense and score a touchdown. Odds closed as 5-1 and as it so happens, Perry came through. From then on, prop bets bloomed and now you can find dozens of every more esoteric and parlayed prop bets on which to wager.
While I like the idea of prop bets, what I kept thinking about during the Hang Up podcast was the sad fate of the Mayor of Denver, Michael Hancock, forced to perform the famous Squirrel Dance after the epic double overtime loss of Fetushead Noodlearm’s Broncos to the Baltimore Ravens. Prior to the AFC Divisional round match up between the Broncos and the Ravens, the mayors of the cities of Denver and Baltimore made what Wikipedia calls a “friendly political wager“: should the Broncos win, Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake would be forced to (ask Mayor Vincent here in DC to (?)) light the Washington Monument in the blue and orange of the Broncos; should the Broncos lose, Denver Mayor Hancock would be forced to do Ray Lewis’ jazz handed-yet masculine Squirrel Dance. As we know, the Broncos lost and Hancock danced:
These sorts of bets are my favorite. Looking into it more, this is apparently a very common practice. Last year, New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Boston’s Mayor Thomas Menino had itemized lists riding on the outcome of Giants-Patriots. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin cleaned up during the Saints’ road to the 2010 Super Bowl, adding Minneapolis CDs and Indianapolis-based shrimp cocktail to his collection of trophies. Hell, even the mayors of the hometowns of starting quarterbacks Colin Kaepernick (Turlock, CA) and Joe Flacco (Audubon, NJ) are getting in on the act by pledging that the loser will be forced to wear the winners colors to the next City Council meeting. And its not always mayors. For this Super Bowl San Francisco-based brewery Anchor Brewing has a friendly wager with Baltimore’s Flying Dog: loser has to pour the winner’s beer in their taproom. And it gets even more obscure from there: Six Flags theme parks have bets among one another, as do the Maryland and San Francisco Zoos.
To me, these kind of bets make up for the nonsense at the top of this post. Happy Super Bowl, everyone. We’re almost there.