So did you have the over on Sunday? Did you take the Giants and the points? What action did you have on New York receiver Mario Manningham? The New York Giants 21-17 win in Super Bowl XLVI was to gambling what Simon Cowell is to bad singing. A TV magnet. An irresistible draw to millions of North American viewers to lose any semblance of human dignity in the the pursuit of riches and fame.
Here at Usual Suspects, sports media purveyor, it's not enough for us to fret over touchdowns and field goals. We're made of sterner stuff. To us, Super Bowl meant playing the odds on the stage directions of the big game. Madonna. Kelly Clarkson. Lea Michele. Yes, betting on the production values of the NBC game telecast via the proposition bets available. Could the mere mention of No. 1 draft prospect Andrew Luck of Stanford by Bob Costas of NBC (over/ under 1) make us rich, rich, RICH! (In the end it didn't.)
We started simply enough, taking the possible record American TV audience for the game. With teams from two of the top Five local TV markets in the U.S. playing, the over/ under number offered was a record 117 million homes. We won't know till today, but assuming the game would stay close we liked the over.
We finally achieved traction with Kelly Clarkson's national anthem. Would she show off her belly (+300)? Would she wear an Super Bowl/ NFL shirt (+300)/ Colts jersey (+500)/ Patriots jersey (+700)/ Giants jersey (+1500)/ Anything else (-300). How long would she take to sing The Star Spangled Banner (over/ under 1:34)? Would she go all Christina Aguilera and muff the words (Yes +225)? How long would the Texas native hold the word "brave" at the end (over 5 seconds -110).
To prepare, we scouted Clarkson's anthem chops on YouTube from appearances at Game 3 of the 2010 AL Playoffs and the NBA Finals in Dallas. Both times came in at 1:33. "O say can you see..." the Under? Likewise, Kelly's a pro, not prone to draw blanks on "the rockets' red glare" so we passed an the Aguilera factor. We did jump the under-five seconds on the word "brave". Because it's the anthem, we thought Kelly would opt for a conservative wardrobe, too.
How did it go? If you had no tummy, no Aguilera moment, "the brave" at under 5 seconds you're a winner. The entire thing at 1:34 was a push (tie). Like Green Bay QB Aaron Rodgers on the pregame show, Clarkson did a great job.
AARP member Madonna was the halftime fare (after referring to herself in the third person with Bob Costas). How would she accessorize? Blonde (-250) Yup. Another hair colour (+250)? Nope. Fishnet stockings? Nein. Would she start the show using a headset (-300) or hand-held microphone (+200)? Headset, folks. The Material Mom stumbled around and looked lame but there was no prop for that. We wished there was a prop on whether she'd flown in on Virgin Airways.
Many pet props involved name-dropping by NBC's Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth and camera choices from the NBC producers. Would Collinsworth mention injured Indianapolis QB Peyton Manning once in the first quarter? (No) In fact,How many times in total would Peyton's name come up during the telecast (over/ under 3.5)? Peyton got just one in-game mention and no camera love. How many times would his boss, Colts irascible owner Jim Irsay be mentioned (over/ under 1)? Sorry, Jim, no soup for you from NBC.
Then there were cameos. How many times would Tom Brady's wife Giselle Bundchen appear on camera? (Only sighting 6 minutes into Q1) Would their son be wearing a Brady No. 12 Patriots jersey? No sign of Brady Jr.. This being Indiana, would homeboys Larry Bird, David Letterman or Bobby Knight make live appearances (yes: -120/ No: -120)? Again no signs of any of them.
Betting on production cues is a funny way to make a living on Super Bowl Sunday. But if you took a run at the unders on TV props you probably had a good night.
Proud As Peacock
NBC leveraged its coverage across every one of its platforms. Every NBC sitcom was represented against the Super Bowl logo. David Feherty's Golfchannel show was live in Indy. Alec Baldwin of 30 Rock hosted the NFL Awards. The judges from The Voice broke out their cliches, and every NBC face monkey took a turn in a faux-musical number called The Brotherhood of Man. All worth it, however, to hear Tina Fey say, "Is a Clydesdale going to kick a beer at Betty White or something?"
Twitter was made for Superbowl. Of the thousands out there, here are our Top Five: 1) Kenny Mayne @Kenny_Mayne "This whole thing is as big or bigger than the Grey Cup."
@darrenrovell 36 per cent of kids under 25 said they'd prefer to be "hooking up" instead of watching SB." (Madonna factor) 3) Albert Brooks @AlbertBrooks "Jews don't celebrate the Super Bowl so we'll be going to Chinese restaurants." 4) Steve Martin @SteveMartinToGo "Since coin toss ceremony is such a highlight, why not hold it after the game to hang onto viewers?" 5) Mark Herzlich @MarkHerzlich "2 yrs ago I was told I'd never walk again, Just WALKED off plane to #Indy to play in #SuperBowl #TakeThatCancer"