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Author Topic: Las Vegas rigged the Super Bowl
snopes
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Comment: What can you tell about the rumor that Super Bowl XXIX was fixed,
because a San Diego win would have shut down numerous Law Vegas casinos?

(This is referenced in a 7/26/05 ESPN.com article located at:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/page2/story?page=jackson/050726&num=0 )

The line, by Scoop Jackson is:

"But just like the urban legend about the '95 Super Bowl -- according to
myth, a phone call was made to ensure a San Diego loss because a win
(because of Vegas odds, the national betting line and shady casino
involvement) possibly would end the existence of the MGM Grand, Mirage and
Hilton hotels -- the reality of Vegas having a final say in games played
by a team the city actually has a vested interest in will make it
impossible for any win or loss to be accepted as 'untouched.'"

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ctown28
I'll Be Home for After Christmas Sales


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Not true, All casinos and bookies establish the point spread (aka "line") based on action on the game. They want 50% of the bettors betting on each team. The SuperBowl you are talking about for example, lets say the line opened at San Francisco -7 and 70% of the bettors were putting their money on SF, the line would move to 7.5 to try and get more people to take San Diego. It would go higher if needed. The way that the casinos make money is that they charge what is called a vigorish on all losing bets.

Lets say you wanted to bet San Diego in that game. To win $100, you would have to lay 11-10 odds (give them $110 to place the bet) If San Diego won you got $210 back for a profit of $100, but since they lost you lost the whole $110.

So basically the casino makes an extra 10% from all bettors that pick the losing team.

Hope this explains it.

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rsmall
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quote:
Originally posted by ctown28:
Not true, All casinos and bookies establish the point spread (aka "line") based on action on the game. They want 50% of the bettors betting on each team. The SuperBowl you are talking about for example, lets say the line opened at San Francisco -7 and 70% of the bettors were putting their money on SF, the line would move to 7.5 to try and get more people to take San Diego. It would go higher if needed. The way that the casinos make money is that they charge what is called a vigorish on all losing bets.

Lets say you wanted to bet San Diego in that game. To win $100, you would have to lay 11-10 odds (give them $110 to place the bet) If San Diego won you got $210 back for a profit of $100, but since they lost you lost the whole $110.

So basically the casino makes an extra 10% from all bettors that pick the losing team.

Hope this explains it.

However, there have been occasions where the opening betting line was a bad one, causing a lopsided amount of money to come in on one team before the line could be adjusted to the point where betting on each team was equalized. I don't know that this happened with respect to the 1995 Super Bowl and, even if it did, I seriously doubt if the game was fixed, but it could have happened. For example, let's suppose the 1995 Super Bowl line opened at 49ers -21.5 points, and 10 million dollars came in on the Chargers +21.5 versus only $3 million on the 49ers -21.5. Suppose the line was then adjusted to 49ers -20.5, but still 10 million more dollars came in on the Chargers +20.5 versus only $6 million on the 49ers -20.5. So, suppose the line was then adjusted to 49ers -19.5, but still 10 million more dollars came in on the Chargers +19.5 versus only $8 million on the 49ers -19.5. So, suppose the line was then adjusted to 49ers -18.5, and then the betting became equalized. Let's assume that another 50 million comes in on each team at the 18.5 point spread. In total, $80 million would have been bet on the Chargers versus only $67 million on the 49ers. In that situation, the casinos would have lost money if the Chargers covered the 18.5 point final spread, but would have made significant profits if the 49ers covered the original 21.5 point spread.

Rodney

P.S. The 49ers won 49-26 and covered the final and, presumably, any earlier point spreads.

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All-American
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I agree with what rsmall said. However, I'd like to add that if the bookmakers post a bad line, they're severely limited in the amount they can adjust the spread, for fear of being "middled."

For example, say the spread opens with the Bears favored over the Eagles by 3 points. Then everybody bets on the Eagles. What happens if the bookies adjust the spread to favor the Eagles by, say, 5 points? Then bettors who took the Eagles at +3 can turn around and bet the Bears at +5. No matter what happens, they'll win one of the two bets. And if the Bears win by less than 3, or the Eagles win by less than 5, they'll win both bets. Hence, the more the spread drifts from its opening value, the greater the likelihood the bookmakers can get middled.

So yes, the bookmakers can and do lose money from time to time. One example that stands out in my mind was the Super Bowl between the Denver Broncos and the Washington Redskins. The Broncos were favored, but a flood of late money came in on Washington. When the Redskins won outright in a romp, the bookies took a bath. [Razz]

A little bit off-topic, but I think it's possible last year's Super Bowl may have been influenced by wagering. Late in the game, the Eagles needed two scores to overcome the deficit against the Patriots. But strangely, the green birds refused to go into any kind of hurry-up offense, to the point where Donovan McNabb even called his center back into the huddle when the center tried to hustle the troops to the line of scrimmage. Essentially, their own time-wasting behavior squandered 4 1/2 minutes and guaranteed they wouldn't be able to score twice. But they did score once, which was enough to beat the spread.

So why sacrifice any hope of winning the game, in exchange for making sure of that one score? Think the Eagles' owner may have wagered on the game? Think if he did, he might have put hundreds of thousands of dollars on it?

Just conjecture - no proof. But the Eagles' actions were peculiar to say the least, as was noted by many sports commentators in the press the next day.

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Methuselah
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by All-American:
For example, say the spread opens with the Bears favored over the Eagles by 3 points. Then everybody bets on the Eagles. What happens if the bookies adjust the spread to favor the Eagles by, say, 5 points? Then bettors who took the Eagles at +3 can turn around and bet the Bears at +5. No matter what happens, they'll win one of the two bets. And if the Bears win by less than 3, or the Eagles win by less than 5, they'll win both bets. Hence, the more the spread drifts from its opening value, the greater the likelihood the bookmakers can get middled.

In your example, people who bet both sides may easily lose one bet, and the because the house takes the vigorish, the bettor who straddled the two spreads will be out more than they won.

Of course, your situation would only happen in cases of bizarre circumstances. In those cases, where there are extenuating circumstances, a casino would be more likely to cease betting and possibly investigate for fraud (in which case they are not required to pay out bets, but simply refund money).

--------------------
"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G.K. Chesterton

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Gibbie
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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All American writes:
quote:
Just conjecture - no proof. But the Eagles' actions were peculiar to say the least, as was noted by many sports commentators in the press the next day.
Not if you know the Eagles. They specialize in rather spectacular chokes.

Gibbie

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If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate.

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Methuselah
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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:
All American writes:
quote:
Just conjecture - no proof. But the Eagles' actions were peculiar to say the least, as was noted by many sports commentators in the press the next day.
Not if you know the Eagles. They specialize in rather spectacular chokes.

Gibbie

Not when they play the Packers...(see: 2003-04 Playoffs, 4th and 26) [Mad]

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"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G.K. Chesterton

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All-American
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quote:
Originally posted by Milhouse Van Houten:

In your example, people who bet both sides may easily lose one bet, and the because the house takes the vigorish, the bettor who straddled the two spreads will be out more than they won.

But look at the economics of it. I don't know what the bookmakers' takeout percentage is, but let's assume it's 10% as someone said earlier. So a patron bets $100 on the Bears, and $100 on the Eagles. He's guaranteed to win at least one of the bets, meaning he'll collect $190 for the $200 he wagered. The most he can lose is $10. If the score falls within the hypothetical 8-point gap, he wins both bets, and collects $380 for the $200 he wagered. So he's risking $10 for the possibility of winning $180. What's more, the big payday comes for what is arguably a highly probable outcome of the game. It's an excellent bet if you can get it. [Smile]

And there's nothing fraudulent about it. It's perfectly legal to bet on both teams in a football game. The bookmakers can't cancel all wagering just because they're afraid they're going to lose money. They can refuse to take further bets on a given game, but in cases where they're trying to even out the action by adjusting the point spread, this would be counterproductive.

The reason the scenario is so "unusual" is only because the bookmakers know enough not to vary the point spread much over the course of betting. The downside is the cases where they make a bad opening line, and a significant portion of the public realizes this and bets accordingly, such as in the Broncos-Redskins Super Bowl. Then it's bombs away! [dunce]

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All-American
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quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:

Not if you know the Eagles. They specialize in rather spectacular chokes.

Don't be silly. Spectacular chokes are marked by wildly errant passes, unforced fumbles, and incredibly poor play-calling.

That was the first half of the game. [Smile]

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Methuselah
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by All-American:
And there's nothing fraudulent about it. It's perfectly legal to bet on both teams in a football game. The bookmakers can't cancel all wagering just because they're afraid they're going to lose money. They can refuse to take further bets on a given game, but in cases where they're trying to even out the action by adjusting the point spread, this would be counterproductive.

Oh, I realize that it's legal to bet a straddle. I wasn't suggesting that the bettor would be ivestigated for fraud, but rather that in a scenario where the line moved that much the likelyhood of a fix is strong. If impropriety on behalf of someone involved in the sporting even is found, bets are not paid out. Money is refunded instead. [Cool]

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"The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him." - G.K. Chesterton

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DesertRat
It Came Upon a Midnight Clearance


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All these goddamned statistics have given me a headache. I can barely balance my checkbook, much less crunch those kind of numbers.

Back to the original issue... let's be practical here. Assuming for a moment that the absurd is true-- "Las Vegas" (as though it's some kind of huge, centrally-led conglomeration) had a vested interest in throwing the game, surely they would have learned from the "Black Sox" scandal. It would not suffice to buy off a handful of players--they would damned near need to buy off the whole freaking team.

Now, in all likelihood, at least one person (likely EVERYONE, but at least someone) would say "not only no, but NFBSK no" and immediately run to the press. Huge sandal ensues.

But let's take a step further, and assume that "Dark Las Vegas" was able to successful entice nearly every player, as well as the coach, to be bought off. These people stand to make a SUBSTANTIAL sum of money from a Super Bowl victory, so buying them off would be ridiculously expensive.

What good then is all the money "Dark Las vegas" is going to save? "DLV" would practically have to blow it all bribing the players, coach, media, etc...

Grand conspiracies just aren't practical.

--------------------
High on the wind, the Highland drums begin to roll, and something from the past just comes and stares into my soul... --Mark Knopfler

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jkfan87
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Sorry, but this just isn't true at all. Bookmakers couldn't care less if they are middled. If Bettor A places a bet on the Underdog at 5 points, and then the favorite at 3 points, that is fine with them. And it makes no difference if that is bettor A placing both bets, or if bettor A placed the first bet and bettor B placed the second. one. Net expected profit for the bookmaker is the same.

Worrying abut bettors hedging ther bets NEVER comes into play when deciding what the current line should be placed at.

Also, the Egales actions in the Superbowl were not that questionable. By the time they were on that drive in question, it was pretty clear that no matter what, they were going to have to be successful at an onside kick to have any chance. If they had been, they would have had plenty of time left to tie the game.

To suggest that owners worth tens, if not hundreds of millions of dollars would risk severe penalties, and jail time just to make a fewhundred thousand on a bet is ridiculous. This isn't the 1930s anymore. Owning a team, especially one like the Eagles, is too big a business to risk placing bets.

quote:
Originally posted by All-American:
I agree with what rsmall said. However, I'd like to add that if the bookmakers post a bad line, they're severely limited in the amount they can adjust the spread, for fear of being "middled."


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All-American
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quote:
Originally posted by jkfan87:

Sorry, but this just isn't true at all. Bookmakers couldn't care less if they are middled. If Bettor A places a bet on the Underdog at 5 points, and then the favorite at 3 points, that is fine with them. And it makes no difference if that is bettor A placing both bets, or if bettor A placed the first bet and bettor B placed the second. one. Net expected profit for the bookmaker is the same.

Worrying abut bettors hedging ther bets NEVER comes into play when deciding what the current line should be placed at.

Welcome to the boards.

I can't believe we're even arguing about this. "Middling" is a well-known scourge of Las Vegas bookmakers. Your assertion that "net expected profit is the same" is completely false if the middlers win both bets, because there is no "other side" of the public which is losing in proportion. You might as well assert that bookmakers don't care if they lose money.

Any bookmaker who doesn't go out of his way to avoid getting middled will be broke in a hurry.

Five minutes of Google searching turned up a multitude of links supporting this. Here are a few:

From scoresdaily.com (Google cache)


"But the casinos have lost big in the past. Rosenthal points to Super Bowl XIII, which had Pittsburgh was favored over Dallas, the defending champions of the NFL. Due to heavy action on both sides, the line on the game went as low as –3 ½ and as high as –4 ½. Pittsburgh won the game by four points and the Stardust lost $1 million by getting ‘middled’ on the game. A big loss in the Super Bowl can have disastrous effects on a book’s football season and, thus, its overall profits for the year."


From sports-gambling.com (Google cache)


"Now you can also understand why many sportsbooks will not let their customers buy the half point, on or off of the number 3. With over 15% of NFL games landing on 3 it can be too risky for sportsbooks to get middled, that is why many will not allow buying that half point down to 2.5 or up to 3.5."


From cigaraficionado.com


"Also hanging on the wall is a plastic bag containing a nylon rope. The sign on it says: For: a middle on Super Bowl.

If, indeed, the sports books were to get "middled" on the Super Bowl (beaten by bettors on both sides of the action because of an inaccurate line that had to be moved several points), more than a few people in Roxy's business might be mildly suicidal."



quote:

Also, the Egales actions in the Superbowl were not that questionable. By the time they were on that drive in question, it was pretty clear that no matter what, they were going to have to be successful at an onside kick to have any chance. If they had been, they would have had plenty of time left to tie the game.

Again, you're wrong. The Eagles had the ball with 4:23 left on the clock when they went into their stall. Had they launched into their two-minute drill (and called exactly the same plays they did, only without wasting time in the huddle and walking up to the line of scrimmage), they could've scored with two-and-a-half minutes left on the clock. If they then hold the Patriots to 3-and-out, they get the ball back without needing to rely on the low-percentage hope of recovering an onside kick. Clock management such as this happens regularly in regular-season games every year.

But let's, just for the sake of argument, posit that the Eagles would need to try the onside kick. Is it better to recover the kick with two minutes left, or with 30 seconds?

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All-American
Deck the Malls


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quote:
Originally posted by DesertRat:

But let's take a step further, and assume that "Dark Las Vegas" was able to successful entice nearly every player, as well as the coach, to be bought off. These people stand to make a SUBSTANTIAL sum of money from a Super Bowl victory, so buying them off would be ridiculously expensive.

Absolutely none of that would be necessary. All that would be required would be a message from upstairs to the Eagles' head coach Andy Reid telling him not to go into the hurry-up offense.
Reid doesn't question the order if he wants to keep his job for next year.

The players on the field know absolutely no different than they do now. All they know is that for some reason they were instructed not to go into their two-minute drill. Some might harbor suspicions, but any allegations made to the press would have no proof, and just hurt their own careers. Plus most players feel a great deal more loyalty toward their team than they do the press, and rightfully so.

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jkfan87
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Sorry, but you are talking about two COMPLETELY different things with your "proof". Buying half points is not at ALL like hedging your bets due to the line moving on its own.

You are wrong about it, plain and simple. You are suggsesting that it the line started at 5 points they would not move it to 3 even if it meant taking a HUGE bet differential just becuase some people might middle. That is wrong.

Your original post had absolutely nothing to do with buying points.

The bottom line is, the ONLY way the bookmakers can lose is if there is more than a 10% difference between bets for each side. Therefore, their ONLY priority is to ensure that this doesn't happen. And you are basically implying that if the opening line was wrong enough to make $10 million bet on one team and only $2 million on another, they wouldn't adjust that, that they would risk losing $8 million dollars just to avoid some people hedging their bets. And that is simply not true. Quite frankly, if there was a 10/2 million difference, and they changed the line, bookmakers would LOVE it if some of the people who made up the $10 million side then bet the oppoiste. Because it would get hem closer to that 50/50 spread that is their #1 (and ONLY) goal.

And suggesting that a man worth $100,000,000 would bet on his team and then make his players play to win the bet and not hte game is just plain stupid. And quite frankly, it is libel, which is illegal. Remember, just because YOU think it was a bad move by the team does not make it so.

You know how many times teams go into no huddle offenses too early, then tie up the game with 1:15 to go only to lose it on a last second field goal? A LOT. Tha is why the SMART teams that know they absolutely need a successful on side kick purposely try to leave less than 2 minutes left when they attempt it. If it is successful, 2 minutes is plenty of time to get the score. If it isn't, then it doesn't matter. Therefore, you don't make your team go to a no huddle if that is not one of their strengths, which it isn't.

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jkfan87
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By the wya, the most obvious fact that bokmakers don't care is that odds DO go from 3 to 5 fairly often. Not a lot, but certainly not an absolute rarity either. If they were so afraid of the tiny percetnage of bettors who are going to hedge (hedging and middle are different, and that is hedging, not middling), then yo would NEVEr see point spreads change by more than a point.
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ctown28
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The bottom line is that the casinos and the bookmakers count on the vig to make their money
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All-American
Deck the Malls


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I feel like I'm trying to teach calculus to my cat. At least with Fluffy there's a glimmer of understanding when we get to integrals. [Smile]

One more time. We'll go nice and slow.

Buying half points (or any points) is exactly the same issue as middling. See the quote where it says, "...it can be too risky for sportsbooks to get middled, that is why many will not allow buying that half point down to 2.5 or up to 3.5"? The phrase "get middled" in there should've been your first clue that they're talking about getting middled.

It's the exact same reason why the Stardust bookies lost a million dollars on the Steelers-Cowboys Super Bowl when the spread drifted from 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 points. If a bookie allows you to buy a half point either way off a 3-point spread, you could theoretically bet the favorite -2.5 and the underdog +3.5 (two separate bets). If the favorite then wins by 3 points, which is one of the most common point differentials in football, you win both bets. Period. And the bookie gets middled.

It doesn't even have to be the same person making both bets. I just used that example before because I thought people would see how sneaky it was that someone could make two bets on two opposing teams and collect on both bets. But let's look at the Steelers-Cowboys again. Say the spread opens with the Steelers favored by 3.5 points. Then 100 people each bet $1 on the Steelers, and 20 people each bet $1 on the Cowboys. The Stardust wants to even out the action, so they raise the spread to 4.5 to encourage more bets on the Cowboys. As a result, now 100 new people bet $1 on the Cowboys, and only 20 more bet $1 on the Steelers.

The Stardust is now happy, because they have $120 bet on the Steelers, and $120 bet on the Cowboys. At least they think they're happy, until the Steelers win by 4 points. Then the 100 people who bet the Steelers while giving 3.5 points win, AND the 100 people who bet the Cowboys while getting 4.5 points ALSO win. That's $200 worth of winning bets, versus only $40 worth of losing bets. The Stardust has just lost its shirt. [Frown]

Losing a million dollars is a BAD thing. It's hard to show a profit when you're a million bucks in the red. Bookies HATE losing a million dollars. In military terms, it's "Unsatisfactory delivery of ordnance." I don't know how I can make it any clearer than that.

So you know some professional betting place where the spread on a football game drifted by 8 points, eh? Show me one verifiable instance of it. Just one. Hint: your older brother's crack-addicted friend Rufus doesn't count.

I get the feeling from your posts that you're in junior high school. Am I close? [Smile]

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All-American
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quote:
Originally posted by jkfan87:

You know how many times teams go into no huddle offenses too early, then tie up the game with 1:15 to go only to lose it on a last second field goal? A LOT. Tha is why the SMART teams that know they absolutely need a successful on side kick purposely try to leave less than 2 minutes left when they attempt it

Yes, I can just see McNabb in the huddle:

"Okay, we're down by two scores, and we've only got 4 1/2 minutes left in the game. But what I'm really concerned about is that after we score twice, they might have time to come back and beat us."

[lol]

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Gibbie
Angels Wii Have Heard on High


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All-American I think you're overlooking the fact that football players are human beings. Reid can order the hurry up all he wants, they won't necessarily execute. They were losing, they were demoralized, they were feeling the weight of the pressure to win, fearing the reprisal at home if they lost (Eagles fans are some of the roughest in the league, no just being there isn't good enough). They NFBSKed up, plain and simple. No grand conspiracies, no orders from above, simply a team who fell apart.

Gibbie

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PASnow
I Saw Three Shipments


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Yes, I can just see McNabb in the huddle:

"Okay, we're down by two scores, and we've only got 4 1/2 minutes left in the game. But what I'm really concerned about is that after we score twice, they might have time to come back and beat us."

---------------------------------------------------------------------

HAHAHA!!!!

I was afraid of that happening myself.

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bcwray
The Red and the Green Stamps


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quote:
Originally posted by Milhouse Van Houten:
quote:
Originally posted by Gibbie:
All American writes:
quote:
Just conjecture - no proof. But the Eagles' actions were peculiar to say the least, as was noted by many sports commentators in the press the next day.
Not if you know the Eagles. They specialize in rather spectacular chokes.

Gibbie

Not when they play the Packers...(see: 2003-04 Playoffs, 4th and 26) [Mad]
 -
[Razz]

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Methuselah
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quote:
Originally posted by bcwray:
Not when they play the Packers...(see: 2003-04 Playoffs, 4th and 26) [Mad]

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[Razz] [/QB][/QUOTE]


Ouch. It still hurts.

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Papo
The Red and the Green Stamps


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in today's world , with the kind of salaries that the players make , kinda hard to fatom some payoff to fix a game .
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abigsmurf
We Wish You a Merry Giftmas


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The trouble with fixing big events is the sums of money involved. To fix the event would require a huge payment which would stick out like a sore thumb in an investigation.

For the scam to be worthwhile there would have to be many times that bet on the victor. Suspicious betting patterns are very easy to spot and not particulary secretive (there have to be tax records afterall). There are a number of people and computers who's job it is to spot these anomalies and they use quite sophisticated methods.

The only way a fix that big could be pulled off without someone noticing is if corruption was deeply rooted in the game at the high and mid administration levels and that larges numbers of people were so intimidated they never speak out.

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0b1knob
Deck the Malls


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There is a long discussion of fixed NFL games at:

http://www.disinfo.com/archive/pages/article/id1634/pg1/index.html

Superbowl XXX is mentioned prominently but not the one you refer to. Interesting that the game is for amusement only (its on every ticket). Is the NFL really any different for the late XFL?

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Clarkone68
I'm Dreaming of a White Sale


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quote:
All that would be required would be a message from upstairs to the Eagles' head coach Andy Reid telling him not to go into the hurry-up offense.
Reid doesn't question the order if he wants to keep his job for next year.

Yeah, because he would have such a hard time finding another team that would pay him big bucks for his services.....

quote:
Some might harbor suspicions, but any allegations made to the press would have no proof, and just hurt their own careers. Plus most players feel a great deal more loyalty toward their team than they do the press, and rightfully so.
You think if a player found out a comspiracy of that magnitde that he wouldn't talk about it to the press in fear of his career? You think he would hold loyalty to his coach?

"Sure coach, I understand. All the hard work, all the countless hours, all the pain and agony I went through, all my dreams, I'll just brush them aside beacause the owner, whom doesn't want to pay me what I'm worth, made some more drunken bets! None of that matters as long as the owner doesn't lose a couple hundred thou. I won't say a word to the media! Oh, he still doesn't want to give me a new contract? Oh well, I still won't say anything!"

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