Super Bowl Notes, Prop Bets and The MasturDeflator

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A quick note before I dive into my column: If you really want to read my thoughts on the deflated football confusion going on with the Patriots, please scroll all the way to the bottom of this post. I’m not going to dignify the ridiculousness of that story by leading with it. I’ve never had more people reach out to me begging for a blog than over the last few days with this non-story, so that’s the only reason I’m even mentioning it at all. I suspect that when the dust settles around this and the Patriots aren’t punished even one penny, all of you fools will think to yourselves, “Wow, we just wasted a week of our lives FREAKING OUT over whether the Patriots purposely made some footballs just a tiny bit softer.” And you’ll all feel pretty stupid, but none of you will admit it. You’ll just fall back on your irrational hatred for New England’s continued success. The funniest part about all this is that almost the entire football world, past players and present, has voiced its opinions that A) This really isn’t a big deal because in no way does it give a team an unfair advantage, and B) They have all doctored the balls themselves or have been with other players who have done so. Like I said, scroll to the bottom if you want more on this.

 On To Seattle

There’s this game that’s going to be played in just 10 days. It’s called the Super Bowl. The two best teams in the NFL are facing off to decide the league’s champion. Do you guys wanna talk about that at all? Or should we switch gears from deflated footballs to Seattle’s illegal six-man formation on the game-changing onside kick from the NFC Championship?

OK, I’ll decide for you. The Super Bowl it is.

So the Patriots and Seahawks come into this game having split 16 games against one another in their history. Wow. So on top of it being the Super Bowl, we also have the rubber match in this long, storied rivalry? Too much!

While the current coaches and players had nothing to do with most of those games, there is a regular season matchup between these two teams from week six of the 2012 season that can teach us a few things. I went back and watched the highlights and read through the game story so you wouldn’t have to. Here’s what you need to know:

  • Russell Wilson was a rookie quarterback who was already putting together a nice little resume.
  • Seattle’s 24-23 win at home against New England would get them off to a 4-2 start while the Patriots would fall to 3-3.
  • The problem is that one of those wins for Seattle was the Fail Mary game where they “beat” Green Bay on a botched game-ending catch/interception call by the replacement referees in week 3 (the NFL Network person doing the highlights in that link above makes sure to tell us that Golden Tate’s 4th quarter catch against the Patriots was not a controversial catch).
  • Tom Brady threw the ball 58 times, the Patriots racked up 85 total plays and held the ball for 36 minutes. But Brady threw two back-breaking interceptions on Seattle’s side of the field to take sure-thing points off the board.
  • There was also some end-of-1st-half mismanagement by New England that cost them three points. They tried to throw one more time with six seconds left (setting up for a field goal if they didn’t get a touchdown), but Brady was flagged for intentional grounding and the 10-second runoff ended the half. So even 27 months ago, Brady was starting to throw stupid interceptions at the wrong time and the Patriots were becoming sketchy in clock management situations at the end of the 2nd quarter.
  • Aaron Hernandez and Wes Welker were Brady’s top receivers in this game.
  • Sidney Rice and Braylon Edwards each caught a touchdown for Seattle.
  • The Patriots held Marshawn Lynch to 41 rushing yards somehow.
  • The legend of Wilson gained momentum when he led Seattle back from a 13-point 4th quarter deficit to knock off a Super Bowl contender.
  • Rice’s game-winning 46-yard touchdown catch came with Patriots defenders Nate Ebner and Tavon Wilson giving chase. This is potentially the biggest change since these two teams last met. While Ebner and Wilson are still on New England’s roster, they play sparingly and will not be responsible for covering Seattle’s top receivers with the game on the line next Sunday.
  • Of all the changes that have happened to both teams since this game, New England’s improved secondary is the X factor.
  • What hasn’t changed much is that New England entered that 2012 game with the league’s top offense and Seattle came into it with the best defense in the NFL. We’re still going to see that exact matchup at the Super Bowl. One of the most efficient offenses versus the best defense.

I’m fully expecting the Super Bowl to be similarly close as that 2012 matchup. And what’s really encouraging is that both teams seem to be healthy. Brian Stork, the Patriots’ rookie center, returned to practice on Thursday, and the banged up guys in Seattle (Sherman, Thomas) are seemingly on track to play. That’s all we can ask for. All hands on deck.

I’m still a long ways off from making my official predictions and handing out prop bet winners, but if I was forced to pick right now, I’d be going with the Patriots. The line is New England -2.

Considering I’m a Patriots fan and will probably find a reason to pick them no matter what, I’ll try to get the one Seattle fan I know to chime in with his justification for picking his team, just so my readers have contrasting takes on this game.

This really is going to be an outstanding football game. It just sucks that we have to wait another 10 days.

For now I’ll leave you with just a few prop bet notes that caught my eye so far:

  1. If you want to see just how crazy betting websites get when it comes to Super Bowl props, check out Bovada’s special props page: HERE. We’re talking bets like “Which coach will be mentioned first by name on TV after kickoff” and “What color will Katy Perry’s hair be when she begins the halftime show”.
  2. Actually, here’s the craziest one I’ve ever seen, and it’s live right now: “What will be higher – Russell Wilson Passing Yards or the US National Average Gas Price (in cents) on Monday, February 2nd?” Seriously. You can bet on that.
  3. One piece of advice that a wise gambling friend of mine always adheres to is this: If a bet on Bovada has the fine print of “Book Manager’s decision is final,” DO NOT WAGER ON THAT PROP. This is because those particular bets are subjective. They aren’t things that the boxscore or play on the field will tell you. Some guy gets to decide. For example, a current prop bet out there on Bovada states, “Will Bill Belichick smile during the game on camera?” Are you really going to make that bet and put your money in the hands of someone whose best interest is having the Bovada site win more money? You’re going to be pissed when you think you’ve seen a smile but they determine it was “only a smirk.”
  4. And finally, here is something I’ve never EVER seen in all my years of online gambling. In every prop that involves either both coaches or just Belichick, there is fine print that says, “Belichick must be coaching in the game.” That means if Belichick isn’t coaching, the bet is off and you get your money back. I have never seen a casino have to hedge by saying “only if the coach is coaching.” I guess they’re waiting to see if he gets suspended?

And that’s a perfect segue for my final thoughts about the accidental under-inflation of the footballs in New England.

So I’ve already established that this air-in-the-football thing is a lot of panicking about nothing. Every quarterback and kicker wants the football to be a certain way. It sounds like the majority of quarterbacks, current and former, do what they need to do to feel comfortable gripping the ball without giving a single thought to the NFL’s exact rules.

I have plenty of friends who aren’t New England fans, and in fact, hate the Patriots. What’s most telling to me over the last few days is that not one of them has come out of the woodwork to throw jabs at me about the Patriots or their cheating ways. Interestingly enough, none of them are Colts fans, Ravens fans or Jets fans. This is very telling. It seems like the people making a huge stink over all this are the fans of teams that the Patriots have consistently beaten each and every year for the past 14 years.

I get it. I’d do the same thing. But unfortunately for a completely innocent man like Bill Belichick, this forces him to be a “defendant” in a case where he hasn’t been charged with anything.

It’s also complete and utter bullshit that 53 players who have worked their asses off all year to get to this point are being dismissed in favor of “the Patriots only won because they cheated.” Picture yourself in that situation. You work harder and compete better than every opponent you face for a full year and then some jealous assholes chalk up your success to a cheating scandal that isn’t even a cheating scandal.

But let’s take a look at this story from a different angle before I retire these thoughts for good:

For the 14th consecutive season, there is a two-week break in the NFL’s schedule between Conference Championship Sunday and Super Bowl Sunday. And for the 14th consecutive season, the lead-up to the big game will be excruciating. It’s especially bad in the Twitter era where all media types, TV personalities and bloggers need something to talk about 24 hours a day.

This also happens to be the time of year where the NBA, NHL, and most importantly, college basketball are all hitting their late-season strides and fans start to really care.

Do you think the NFL wants to be relegated to third or fourth priority in the news cycles for the next five or six days? No way. They are a machine. And they stop at nothing to lead the sporting news daily.

So tell me…knowing the integrity of the NFL’s decision-makers and that money makes every decision for them, would you really put it past them to use a harmless inquiry by a team on ball inflation rules as a lightning rod for a huge controversy?

I’ve heard anecdotally in the past about lots of different requests/petitions/inquiries every team sends to the league office after certain games. (“We don’t think [fill in the blank] should be allowed and would like to see it addressed by the rules committee.”)

This ball deflation issue probably started out the same way. But what does the NFL want? Headlines! Controversy! A better reason to watch the Super Bowl! A villain everyone can root against!

And, boy, was that ever easy. Just leak out enough information that Indy doesn’t think the Patriots’ win was on the up & up, and boom, you have your scandal.

The NFL has literally said nothing about this investigation for close to 100 hours. Don’t you think if they wanted it to go away they would have come out with more information, assigned blame to someone, or handed down their punishment for those responsible? You don’t accidentally let a topic like this sit out there unattended unless you want it to.

Remember the Ray Lewis Deer Antler Spray in the weeks leading up to Baltimore vs San Francisco in Super Bowl XLVII? That’s what this is all over again. Some stupid nugget of information that shouldn’t be at all scandalous or newsworthy but suddenly is because the timing of when it first came up (and, let’s face it, because everyone wants to peg the Patriots as true cheaters because their teams almost never win against them).

And I think New England should do the same thing Ray Lewis did leading up to the Super Bowl (twice, actually. He also had the murder allegations swirling around him at the Super Bowl in 2001). Say nothing. Give it no attention. Don’t answer questions about it. You only know about the Seattle Seahawks because that’s all you’re focusing on/thinking about this week.

And when the NFL decides that the Super Bowl is close enough for people to be talking a lot about the actual game, they will quietly rule that no one in the Patriots organization was found of any wrongdoing, but they will be overhauling the procedures around how the footballs are handled in the hours leading up to each game going forward.

If you know the NFL at all, you know this is exactly what they wanted and what I just said is exactly how it’s going to play out.

This Patriots fan will not be dragged into another discussion about something as bogus as air pressure inside a fucking football.

End of story.

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Job Opportunities For The Underemployed (Six Potential Jobs I’m Seriously Considering)

Like any legit financial genius would do, I’m always evaluating and re-evaluating my money situation. A few months back I took a look at my cash flow and realized there was no actual flow, just a rapid bloody hemorrhaging. After calculation upon calculation, I finally figured out what was happening. I hadn’t been on the receiving end of “income” in about 10 months. Apparently money only flows one way when you don’t have any coming in.

After squeezing every penny out of my stock market plays, my online gambling website and any family members who were dumb enough to believe that I was self-producing a movie and needed donations, I did what any person would do as his last resort for income: I got a job.

Over the past four months I’ve been making lead generation cold calls for a software company from my couch. It’s part-time work that nearly covers my monthly living expenses. When I agreed to this job (which is way, waaaaaay below my qualifications as a former sales wunderkind, but that’s another discussion for another day), I liked the plan. Work about 20 hours per week, have enough time to continue pursuing my writing, and make enough money that my savings account status goes from “rapid hemorrhaging” to “controlled bleed.”

And so far it’s pretty much worked out how I expected. But soon enough there will come a time when I probably want to make more money than “just enough to come up short of my living costs.” Isn’t that every American’s dream?

Here are some of the supplemental job opportunities that I’d be willing to consider to bring me from “voluntary poverty” to “upper lower class”:

  1. Los Angeles Apartment Hunter: This isn’t an actual title of an actual job, but I bet there are people out there willing to pay good money to have someone go to an apartment they’re potentially looking to rent and check it out for them. Let’s say you’re relocating from the East Coast but won’t have a chance to come look at apartments yourself. You could pay a stranger to visit the apartment, ask questions, take pictures, survey the safety of the neighborhood and haggle with the landlord about the security deposit. It wouldn’t surprise me if this type of job already exists. And I’d totally do it, but I’d get fired almost immediately. You know how I know that? Because last week a friend who is coming to LA for two months asked me to look at an apartment in West Hollywood that she might rent. And like any good friend, I helped her out. She asked for pictures and a general sense of the safety of the complex and surrounding neighborhood. I ended up getting about 14 good pictures of the living room, all from the same angle. No pictures of the bedroom or bathroom. One picture of the roof deck, but somehow I missed the pool and hot tub setup. I essentially asked zero questions to the woman who rents the place. And I spent the whole time thinking about how much it sucks that a five-mile drive home from this apartment might take 45 minutes. So while I think this could be a good part-time job, I just don’t think I have the eye for detail that’s needed for success.
  2. TaskRabbit Task Master: Are you familiar with this company, TaskRabbit? Probably only if you live in one of the nine cities they currently serve. It’s basically a forum where people who need a task done for them post a request, and then someone agrees to do that odd job for a certain amount of money (grocery shopping, yard work, delivery of 50 buffalo wings to a group of drunk poker-playing guys). So if you’re feeling lazy, you can post on the website that you want someone to buy your groceries and deliver them to you. And for about $40 (plus the cost of the groceries, obviously) someone will arrive at your house a few hours later with your grocery list fulfilled. The randomness of these jobs is endless. And if you spend some time on the site, you’ll see that there is quite the range when it comes to making money. I could make $300 one day by helping someone move out of his apartment, and then $15 the next day by delivering cupcakes to some unemployed weirdo who’s too lazy to get off his couch (though seeing someone who is an exact replica of me might be a mind-numbing experience). This idea has some potential, except for the fact that I don’t have a car most days, and I’m a little concerned I’d be the unlucky person who goes to clean someone’s gutters and it turns out he’s a psychopath who wants me to give him a handjob instead. Let’s move on.
  3. ChaCha Answer Master: The lazy man’s version of TaskRabbit. Instead of getting paid to perform odd jobs that may take you out of your house, you get paid to find answers to random questions people have while sitting on your couch. So if you’re at a bar arguing with a friend about how Grady Little should have never gotten another managing job in Major League Baseball after his 2003 meltdown with the Red Sox, and the friend says Grady Little never did get another job in baseball, you can text your question to ChaCha (242-242) and some fat slob will research the correct answer and send it to you within minutes. Why you wouldn’t just google the answer from the bar is beyond me, but this company exists so plenty of people must be going to it for answers. You may be surprised to know that I actually was a ChaCha answer person for a little while in 2010. But after spending about seven hours spread out over three days answering questions for all the idiots who use the service, I found out I had only made like $3.10 total. I decided it probably wasn’t the most lucrative job I could find at that time. I don’t think I’d consider this again unless I suffer a terrible injury and literally cannot leave my apartment.
  4. Company Name Thinker-Upper (aka “I Steal Your Money Right From Under Your Nose”): I stumbled upon this industry when I was researching a company for my current part-time job the other day. The company is Namella, and their value prop is that they’ll come up with the perfect name for your new company in 72 hours for only $97!!! It immediately struck me as a bold business venture, mostly because I think it’s absolute bullshit to pay someone to come up with your company name. You’re an entrepreneur, right? A creative, think-outside-the-box type of person? And you can’t even think of a good name for your company? On Namella’s customer success stories page, they give examples of the great names they’ve come up with for existing businesses. “John wanted a name that reflected his company being a real estate company but that it was a professional one that you would be glad to seek out. 72 long hours later, we came up with ‘ProSeek Properties’.” Or… “Janet wanted people to know that her technology services really are unlimited, so after a few all-nighters with the creative team here at Namella, we came up with ‘Limitless Tech Solutions’.” Brilliant! Hey, if people are dumb enough to pay you hundreds of dollars for you to not add any value to their company, by all means you should take it. That’s why I’m happy to announce my new business venture. It’s called “Ross Names Your Company Because You’re Too Stupid To Name Your Own Company.” Fortunately for my new customers, I only charge $96 and promise to give you the new name within 71 hours of your payment (*71 hour commitment not guaranteed if an important Boston sporting event is happening within that time period).
  5. Online Gambling Addict: On the one hand, I did make over $1,500 last year during football season on a combination of fantasy leagues, elimination pools and yes, online gambling. But on the other hand, it took five months to make that money, and football is the only sport that I know well enough to consistently make a profit. So the next step would be playing online poker all day long for money. Tempting, no doubt about it. I knew some guys in college who would constantly have four separate poker games going at once, and they made thousands of dollars by basically being patient and playing the odds. Unfortunately I don’t know the odds, don’t have the patience, and I’d feel like such a loser when my girlfriend came home from work every day to find me on my 11th straight hour of poker, hoping and praying that I make $100 before the night’s over. College Ross should have done this instead of going to those useless journalism classes.
  6. VOLCANOOO!!: OK, the name of the job isn’t volcano. But whenever I think about waiting tables one more time, the first thing I think of is my interview at RainForest Cafe in San Francisco eight years ago. Since I worked at Pizzeria Uno (or Uno Chicago Grill, whatever the fuck they call it) for three years, I thought I knew what I was getting into with working at another chain restaurant. But RainForest Cafe went to the next level. Any time it was someone’s birthday, you’d have to bring out the volcano dessert and scream “VOLCANOOO” at the top of your lungs until all the other servers joined you to sing the cheesy birthday song to the kid. And don’t get me started on their forest ranger uniforms. If I had taken that job, I would have absolutely stabbed myself in the neck with one of those sparklers that sits on top of the volcano. I’m pretty sure this guy wants to do the same thing:

So there you have it. My six best job opportunities right now, and they range from “undesirable” to “doesn’t actually exist as a job.” Perfect. I should have the cash needed for the tropical vacation I promised my girlfriend in no time.