Tom Sorensen

Short takes: If you had a $1 million to bet on an NFL game, would you do it?

William Hill, which runs sports books around the world as well as in Las Vegas, took three bets of at least $1 million – each on the Philadelphia Eagles – for Super Bowl LII.
William Hill, which runs sports books around the world as well as in Las Vegas, took three bets of at least $1 million – each on the Philadelphia Eagles – for Super Bowl LII. AP

Even if I had $1 million to bet on an NFL game, I’d bet it only if I were almost certain about the outcome. And how can you be almost certain? I know that some of you believe officials go into a game favoring a team (the team that plays the Carolina Panthers, for example). I know that some of you believe the NFL favors the New England Patriots. After Sunday, however, that belief might be shaken.

Betting $1 million on the outcome of the Super Bowl is riskier than a throwing the ball to your quarterback on fourth and goal. I can’t fathom mustering the courage, insight or recklessness that such a bet would require. I’d be nervous betting $100,000. Or $1,000.

Yet, William Hill, which runs sports books around the world as well as in Las Vegas, took three bets of at least $1 million – each on the Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles opened as 5½ underdogs and by kickoff were 4½.

You imagine a man or woman placing such a bet and going home?

QUESTION: Honey, what did you do today?

ANSWER: I bet $1 million on the Philadelphia Eagles.

Lose such a bet and how do you even get out of bed Monday morning?

Win the bet and you don’t even have to get out of bed. You can pay somebody to do it for you.

▪  When the team that I grew up with won the World Series, I never felt the urge to break a storefront window or tip over a car. …

▪  Did you like Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show? Most are terrible. The best of them, and it’s not close, was when Prince performed at halftime in 2007. I hear guys my age rave about Justin Timberlake. But are they raving because they love the guy or because they think that they’re supposed to?

Timberlake isn’t a singer that dances. He’s a dancer that sings. I don’t know if he sang multiple songs or one song that was as long as a Philadelphia Eagles’ drive. He moved around. He’s going up steps. Oh, no, he’s going down steps. He’s sitting at a white piano. He’s up. And there above him, in every way, is Prince. …

▪  We saw some amazing sporting events in the last sports year, and can add the Super Bowl LII to the collection. One that doesn’t get the attention it should is the middleweight title fight between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez. The fight was scored a draw. They’ll do it again n 2018…

▪  The ACC men’s basketball season has been strange. But some order will be restored Thursday when Duke plays at North Carolina. This is the best rivalry in college athletics.

I’ve seen some good ones, among them football games between Alabama and Auburn, and Oklahoma and Texas. Football between Georgia and Florida, and Clemson and South Carolina, are up there, too.

I know I’m missing some rivalries, most of which involve your school. What distinguishes Duke and North Carolina is sustained excellence. The schools have won four of the last 10 national championships, the Tar Heels in 2009 and ’17, the Blue Devils in 2010 and ’15.

Neither team has been excellent this season. The ninth-ranked Blue Devils are 7-3 in the ACC, and 21st-ranked North Carolina 6-5. But they are who they are, and that’s enough.

▪  We need this game. Post-Super Bowl February is bleak. Spring looms, but it’s not yet close to feel. A diversion is required. In terms of athletics, find me one as compelling.

Tom Sorensen is a retired Charlotte Observer columnist. Sign up for his newsletter, and follow him on Twitter: @tomsorensen

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