NEW YORK (AP) — The Chicago Bears were such big favorites over the New England Patriots in the 1986 Super Bowl that bettors were reluctant to put their money on either team.
But many of them couldn't wait to place a few bucks on the chance Bears coach Mike Ditka might give William "The Refrigerator" Perry the ball on short yardage and let him try to score a touchdown.
Ditka did just that, and Perry made the move pay off. The defensive lineman scored a touchdown in the third quarter of a 46-10 blowout, and bettors who got up to 40-1 odds on the proposition bet scored along with him.
"That was the prop that put everybody on the map," Jimmy Vaccaro said. "We lost $40,000 on one bet and the guy across the street blew so much he wanted to go upstairs and jump off the roof."
Linemen still score touchdowns only rarely. But betting on the so-called "props" put up by Las Vegas sports books has become big.
At Vaccaro's South Point hotel sports book, gamblers can bet on some 300 different proposition bets, from who will win the opening coin toss to the 1,000-1 odds on either the Denver Broncos or Seattle Seahawks scoring a touchdown in the big game.
Find an offshore book to wager with, and the props become even more exotic. At the Bovada website, bettors can wager on things as diverse as how many times Peyton Manning will say "Omaha" during the game (over/under 27 1/2) to how long it will take Renee Fleming to sing the national anthem (2:25 is the book's guess).
"It's a higher number than we've offered in the past," said Bovada oddsmaker Pat Morrow. "But after seeing some of her performances we figured as an opera singer she would have a higher tendency of drawing out a note. We had to watch a lot of YouTube to make that line."