Getting 'the edge'

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Getting 'the edge'

"The race is not always to the swift,
nor the battle to the strong,
but that's the way to bet."
- Damon Runyon

One thing you gotta know about sports bettors is that they are always looking for an edge. And as the late David J. Willmott wrote at least once each week for over 40 years, "And why not?"

(I mean, the odds are always with the odds-makers, and the "spread" favors he who makes the line! Casinos and sports books are not philanthropists!)

Tony Romo

The Dallas Cowboys problematic quarter­back Tony Romo, long castigated by his team's fans as not being able to "win the big one," made his Big One bones this past Sunday with a 4th Quarter perform­ance which will be described in the years to come, as "legendary."

Having been knocked out of the game in the 2nd Quarter after a hit by San Francisco cornerback Carlos Rogers, Romo with a broken rib and a collapsed lung returned to play the final 14 minutes, completing 11 of 14 passes for 185 yards to lead Dallas to a come-from-behind 27-24 overtime victory over the 49ers.

That's the stuff of Frank Merriwell schoolboy fiction of my father's youth!

After the game, Romo was returned to the doctors' care for evaluation and treatment while the always voracious media speculated about the seriousness of his injuries and his playing status.

Wednesday night cable Showtime's "Inside the NFL" televised a remote conversation between the in-studio ex-NFL players who host the show and Romo, sitting in a director's chair somewhere in Dallas.

It was a good seqment, with a lot of banter and humor, with the funniest material causing Romo to lean forward a bit and hold his rib cage in the classic "don't make me laugh" posture.

At the end of the sequence, salutations were exchanged and Romo's screen went to the show's logo on a blue background.

Ten minutes later, the in-studio team cut in and showed footage of what occurred immedi­ately following that fade-out: Romo, extremely gingerly trying to get out of that chair, and having to be assisted by one of the floor crew.

I could hear the 'phones ringing in sports books all over America...

"Whatever the line is, gimme Washington against Dallas Monday night!"

(Because, of course, a game's point spread has been known to move on new information.)

I am reminded of the 1968 AFL Championship game at Shea Stadium, two weeks before the Jets' (when they really were a New York team) historic victory in Super Bowl III, the first of four straight defeats of a Baltimore team at the hands of a Big Apple-based team.

Joe Namath

In the early morning hours of December 29, 1968, Joe Willie Namath was seen in his mink coat entering the Summit Hotel1 with a blonde in Courrèges boots under his arm and a bottle of Johnny Walker Red in hand.

(According to Jimmy Breslin writing in New York Maqazine, the observer was a doorman on 51st Street who spotted him at 5:00 a.m., and at the end of his shift raced over to an after hours joint off Queens Boulevard to share that news so everyone could call their bookies.

The account of Mark Kriegel in Namath: A Biography, related that a rookie cop named John Timoney was exiting his precinct house at 8:00 a.m, just five hours before the Jets/Raiders kick-off, when he saw a disheveled and tired-looking Broadway Joe and the blonde leaving the Summit... and rushed to get a bet down on Oakland.)

Either way, observers of the actual game felt that Namath's wobbly 4th Quarter throw across the field to Don Maynard2 for a 50-yard gain was the greatest pass they'd ever seen even though it took the starch out of the Raiders, led to a 27-23 win, and cost all those "insiders" a nice payday.

"How does a guy who'd trained hours earlier in bed with a bottle and a blonde make a play life that?" of Breslin's stunned habitués moaned.

But Joe Willie in his white shoes made believers of most of us, and I didn't hesitate to back his "guarantee" of a win over the formi­dable Baltimore Colts a fortnight later.

A story from Friday morning reports that Romo might play at home against the Redskins Monday night.

Who're ya gonna believe, a rehashing of a team press release, or the quick clip of a hurting Romo unable to dismount unaided from a director's chair?

  1. Now the Metropolitan Hotel, on the corner of 51st Street and Lexington Avenue, just down the avenue from his Bachelors III bar.

    With his whole family in town and staying at his apartment, alternate "conjugal" ar­rangements had to be made.
  2. One of six for 118 yards and two touch­downs the wide receiver caught in the bitter cold and notoriously gusty Shea Stadium winds that afternoon.


1. Jeanne Speir said...

Oh man, I wish "The League" was airing before October....

Yes, dear... seriously, it's a very funny show.

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