Remembering back to the first time they called the game we’ll all watch today the “Super Bowl,” I can’t tell you how silly it sounded at the time. Many of us grew up with the Rose Bowl, the Sugar Bowl, the Orange Bowl and the Cotton Bowl. Heck, Sacramento even used to have the Camellia Bowl.
But Super Bowl? Which goofball came up with that? Still, much like that poor newborn saddled with an odd and unfamiliar “family” name, “Super Bowl” stuck. And even to me, it doesn’t sound strange anymore.
I don’t know of another sporting event witnessed by so many people who know absolutely nothing about the game they’re watching.
There will always be the diehards who hang on every play, but for most everyone else it’s a social event at which the game is secondary.
The dirty little secret of professional football is that its sky-high television ratings are fueled by this nation’s thirst for sports gambling. And no sporting event of any kind comes close to the kind of wagering the Super Bowl brings.
You can literally bet on the coin flip, with heads bringing better odds than tails.
The legal bookies in Reno and Las Vegas — as opposed to illegal bookies every place else — offer a whole pamphlet full of “propositions” that go way beyond the point spread or the highly popular “over/under.”
For instance, will the number of yards of Colin Kaepernick’s longest completion in the game be more or less than the total points, rebounds and assists combined for Kobe Bryant in Sunday’s Lakers game against the Detroit Pistons? I am not making this up.
Or, will the number of yards Colin Kaepernick gains on his longest running play of the game be more or less than the total number of goals scored in all National Hockey League games on Sunday? I didn’t make that up either.
Or, will the number of NFL players who openly admit to using deer antler spray to enhance performance be more or less than the number of times 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver says he’s really, really, really sorry for his anti-gay comments? (OK, I made that one up.)
But you get the point.
Will 49ers kicker David Akers score more or less than 7½ points? Will he throw his helmet more or fewer than 40 yards when his first field goal attempt clangs off the left upright?
If you think Colin Kaepernick will throw for more than 300 yards and rush for more than 100, your 10-dollar bet could bring you a fat hundred-dollar bill.
By the way, when it comes to alliterative names in the world of sports, “quarterback Colin Kaepernick” ranks right up there with Mickey Mantle, Minnie Minoso, Robin Roberts and the Philadelphia Phillies. But there’s no wager on the quarterback’s name. That I know of.
Will the first score of the game be a 49ers field goal (3 to 1), a 49ers rushing touchdown (3 to 1), a 49ers passing touchdown (5 to 1), a 49ers touchdown of another kind (25 to 1), a 49ers safety (75 to 1), a Ravens field goal (3 to 1), a Ravens rushing touchdown (4 to 1), a Ravens passing touchdown (4 to 1), a Ravens touchdown of another kind (25 to 1) or a Ravens safety (75 to 1)?
Will the shortest touchdown of the game be more or less than 54 inches? Will the longest touchdown of the game be more or less than 46 yards, 18 inches? Will the longest score of the game come from a touchdown or a field goal? Will the team with more penalties win the game or lose the game?
Will there be a score in the first 6½ minutes of the game? Will there be a score in the final two minutes of the first half?
Will Alex Smith take a snap from center (other than in warmups)? Which Harbaugh will throw the first challenge flag? Which will Colin Kaepernick throw first, a touchdown pass or an interception?
And the one that intrigues me the most, will more than two players combined from both teams throw a pass during the game? In other words, besides Kaepernick and Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco, will there be one other player — from either team — who throws a pass? Like maybe a fake punt, a fake field goal, a halfback option or a bad snap that forces the kicker to throw a Garo Yepremian-like Hail Mary?
What any of this has to do with who actually will win or lose the game is anyone’s guess, but in case you’re wondering, the outcome of this one has never been in doubt.
San Francisco 27, Baltimore 7.
— Reach Bob Dunning at firstname.lastname@example.org