A look at all the Super Bowl-related bets you can make—even if you don't know anything about football
Every week, our panel of sports fans discusses a topic of the moment. For today's conversation, Patrick Hruby (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), Hampton Stevens (writer, ESPN and The Atlantic), and Jake Simpson (writer, The Atlantic) talk about the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl is nearly upon us. More than fodder for the sports page, more than a pop cultural carnival, more than an excuse to eat and drink to unhealthy excess—as if the nation that gave the world Paula Deen, diabetes drug spokesmodel needs an excuse—and more than an unabashed celebration of the fundamental American values of life, liberty and selling something to the next sucker, the big game is an opportunity to cut loose and partake in the one activity we typically tightly regulate, unless you work on Wall Street.
I speak, of course, of gambling.
The most appealing aspect of Super Bowl betting is that you don't have to know a thing about actual football to enjoy a little action. Not with prop bets—those silly-yet-serious wagers that cover everything from the national anthem to the commercials. According to reports, prop bets for this year's game include how many viewers the game will have and whether Madonna's hair will be blonde during the halftime show.
With that in mind, here are a few prop bets I'd like to see:
Number of times Madonna injects HGH during her halftime performance: Set the line at 0.5. Then take the over. If there's one entertainment outfit that's as juiced-up as pro football—the NFL: Where Even Punters Are Roidin'—it's Hollywood. I know it. Vanity Fair knows it. Besides, just look at Madonna's guns.
Rob Gronkowski ankle close-ups vs. number of times Peyton Manning is shown in a luxury box: Gronkowski's high ankle sprain is the most-talked about Super Bowl injury since Terrell Owens' bum ankle in 2005; Manning, who may never play football again, hangs over the game like Banquo's ghost.
Mentions of Tim Tebow during game broadcast: Even though the Denver Broncos' uber-popular
option fullback quarterback isn't actually playing in the game, go with at least two. Little known fact: Tebow mentions are required by federal statue.
Commercials featuring talking CGI animals vs. commercials referencing 1980s movies: A push. Does the E-Trade baby count as an animal?
Teasers and trailers for film sequels vs. teasers and trailers for superhero films: Trick proposition, as the real winner is teasers and trailers for superhero film sequels.
Concussions suffered by players in the Super Bowl vs. concussions shown during the NFL's high-concept player safety ad: According to the New York Times, the league will be broadcasting a slick, 60-second spot that presents what writer Stefan Fatsis describes as a "moving timeline of NFL history in which one era digitally morphs into the next during the course of a single kick return, projecting a seamless advance in player safety from the days of the flying wedge to the leather helmet to the single-bar facemask to the horse-collar tackle." Probably not included in the CGI-whizbanggery? The recent spate of lawsuits filed by brain-damaged former players against the league.
Hampton, any other prop bets—or non-football Super Bowl thoughts—you'd like to share?