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The Super Bowl and Betting have a Long History

 In the build up for Super Bowl III, Joe Namath the New York Jets outspoken quarterback, proudly exclaimed “We’re going to win Sunday…I’ll guarantee you!” The Jets were one of the new teams from the American Football League, which was considered a less competitive league than the National Football League. By guaranteeing a win by the Jets, he inadvertently created a betting buzz leading up to the championship game. That buzz still happens every two weeks before the game.

Betting Evolves

Betting on the big game is a pastime for professionals and amateurs. They bet on winners, losers, even over/under for total points scored in the game. More recently, bets started being made on coin flips, field goals, MVP’s and even what color Gatorade is poured over the winning coach. 

Prop Bets

The most popular bets today are prop bets or proposition bets. Prop bets are bets that do not include anything about who wins or loses the game. Tony Petrello, a former employee with a Las Vegas betting organization, shared his insights with me for the day. “My favorite Super Bowl bet is the first score of the game.” One can bet on a touchdown being scored first or a field goal/safety.  “FG/safety is always plus money. Most teams defenses are amped at the start of the game and can lead to at best a field goal as the first score.”  The past ten Super Bowls have seen the FG/safety bet win seven times, five field goals and two safeties.    

Betting to Increase Viewing Fun

“I love bets that are trackable for the entire game,” Tony added. He recommends player yardage over/under. Betting on a team you root for is popular, “but when you bet a player yardage total it’s a completely different viewing experience!”   “Perhaps you bet OBJ over 63.5 yards. Every time LA lines up on offense, you want the Matthew Stafford pass to go to him.  You are thinking, ‘Don’t hand off!  Pass the ball!  There he is!  OBJ open!’ Once Beckham catches it you are yelling, ‘Run, man run!’”  Tony also adds, “When OBJ takes a series off and the camera shows him on the sidelines, you are yelling, ‘Get back in the game, pal!’” You can keep track of the player’s yard total all game long. If he gains more than 63 yards, you win. 

Another popular prop bet is the touchdown bet. It’s offered for many of the offensive and defensive players. Who scores the first touchdown? Will the first touchdown be the Rams or the Bengals? Will Tyler Boyd score two touchdowns?  “I like to put down a few dollars on players with a decent plus money payout.”  Those are players like the 3rd or 4th receiver and short yardage running backs for goal line plays. 

History of Prop Bets

For example, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, weighing in at a hefty 350 pounds, was a defensive lineman for the Chicago Bears in the mid 1980’s. During their Super Bowl winning season in 1985, he was used as a blocker in goal line situations and even scored a few touchdowns himself.  As Eli Hershkovich said in a piece for ‘The Lines’, “The Perry Super Bowl prop bet became the spark that ignited the firestorm of props now offered for the big game.” Perry scored a touchdown in the 1986 championship game and his line was plus 2,250.

But if all this seems hard to choose, you could just do one of the non-football props.  You could choose Over/Under 95 seconds for the National Anthem.  What color ya got? Yellow/Orange or another color Gatorade dumped on the winning coach? Heads or Tails on the opening coin toss? Which performer will sing first for halftime? Mary J Blige right now has the best odds! For me? Most performers love to hold that last note out for “Home of the Brave.”  I’ll go over 95!

So good luck. Enjoy the game and remember, I don’t claim any inside information.  Just giving you more ways to get a kick out of what should be a highly competitive game!


I am a math teacher in SW Ohio. Born and raised in NE Ohio, I am married with four sons who keep the flame burning for all things Cleveland. I cover soccer, betting, football and anything that focuses on the human side of sports.

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