Sports and the media: Bucking the trend of prop bets Fox may offer up for Super Bowl LIV

By Tom Hoffarth

The Sports Media Misery Index moves into the fringes of a 2020 landscape and lives to see a new way of looking live at Super Bowl LIV:

NOT-SO-LOW THRESHOLD

== Fox Sports’ fluid investment into the burgeoning age of legalized sports wagering, yoked with a pledge to make Sunday’s NFL championship game in Miami a national unifying moment, gives us an odd family bonding experience.

Now Cousin Sal can canoodle with Uncle Sam and make Americas grateful they can gamble again.

The foundation is now based on in how Fox runs its own online sports book, FoxBet.com. Go there, and Charissa Thompson and Colin Cowherd will walk you through how to set up an account, sign up and get $20 in “free cash” to start. Sal Iacono, part of the FS1 “Lock In It” gambling show mess with Clay Travis and Todd Fuhrman, is also featured to help drive traffic this week.

(Somehow, this matters. When Cowherd went 0-for-10 on NFL wagering suggestions over a three-week period earlier this month,it became newsworthy).

The same San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs who will participate in this year’s Super Bowl are also two of the 13 NFL teams licensed by FoxBet to be their official cyber sportsbook home.

On the single-greatest sporting-event day to excuse any sort of betting, it  behooves Fox to promote as much of it as it can.

Whether or not play-by-play man Joe Buck, analyst Troy Aikman or even rules analyst Mike Pereira allude to any sort of overs, underdogs or whatever else goes silly sideways during the contest is fodder for exotic bets.

Buck, who at 50 has been in the NFL TV business half his life and is working his sixth Super Bowl with Aikman going back to 2005, has never been one to lean on any sort of gambling parlance, subtle or otherwise. As such, OddsShark.com notes that favored odds as much as -290 for “no” and +190 for “yes” are out there on whether Buck or Aikman specifically make any mentions of a point spread.

“That’s up to the people I work for and I plan on talking to them about it when I see them next week,” Buck told us in a text late last week.

The only bets we’d list as a lock for Fox’s production is a) Jimmy Johnson showing up to the pregame show via his sport fishing boat docked somewhere off the Miami coastline, and b) Fox MLB analyst and Miami native Alex Rodriguez making a halftime cameo, if not to critique the performance of fiancé Jennifer Lopez, then participating in a lively debate about how the Houston Astros’ cheating scandal is a far worse offense than being caught using steroids.

== Sports Illustrated’s new ownership announced it will “take over the Fontainebleau Miami Beach” on the night before the Super Bowl for “one of the biggest parties in sports,” offering admission tickets online (SportsIllustratedTheParty.com) starting at $650 for open-bar VIP entry.

Spectacular to see priorities are in place after SI depleted its staff with recent cutbacks and layoffs but can still slap its brand on this blessed event.

 

MID-LEVEL UNCOMFORTABLE

== The world may never know the identity of the one and only Baseball Hall of Fame voter who didn’t have Derek Jeter on his or her ballot, as it was revealed last week the New York Yankees shortstop picked up only a 99.7 percent approval rating in his first year of eligibility.

There is logic in that journalists who make a living holding people accountable shouldn’t be able to selectively hide behind anonymity in this situation.

Yet it reconfirms the notion that it’s never in the best interests of anyone employed on a media outlet staff to participate in the election of who wins major sports awards.

The potential loser ends up being the journalist becoming part of the story.

== The dancing contradiction that is Erin Andrews is put through the HBO “Real Sports” filter for the upcoming installment (Tuesday, 10 p.m.).

Soledad O’Brien identifies the Fox Sports NFL sideline entity as “America’s first and only sports reporter to moonlight as a Hollywood celebrity. … The dual identity has made Andrews one of the most successful women in broadcasting but also one of the most talked-about women in sports. To those who say she’s succeeded not for the news she’s uncovered but for the image she’s created.”

Andrews says: “I guess my argument is why is it such a crime to care what you look like?”

It’s not. It’s far more problematic in the ways she continues to skirt conflicts of interest.

As a side note, Andrews’ father, Steve, an on-air local NBC reporter in Tampa, Fla, admits in the piece that when Playboy gave her the title of “sexiest sportscaster” in 2008 and ’09, he voted for her.

“Wouldn’t you vote for your son or …,” he asks O’Brien. “I can’t defend myself on that.”

A HIGHER TOLERANCE

== The latest shenanigans at El Segundo-based DirecTV, as new owners AT&T systematically pick apart a once proud sports net provider, finds the “The Dan Patrick Show” and “The Rich Eisen Show” shortchanged.

AT&T decided recently to discontinue The Audience Network, where both shows have been simulcast. The company sent out what it now calls an “accidental tweet” by its PR department, reporting Patrick’s show would disappear there as of Feb. 28.

Patrick, whose show heard weekdays from 6-to-9 a.m. on KLAC-AM (570), ended a simulcast deal with NBCSN a year ago to stream on Bleacher Report Live.

He says he was “well aware” of the AT&T potential disconnect before that tweet came out.

“We’ll be at the Super Bowl with AT&T’s support, and we’re in discussions for a new TV partner as we speak, but the radio show and podcast continue without interruptions,” Patrick told us via email last week.

== Jerry Izenberg, part of the crew of journalists who covered the first Super Bowl at the Coliseum and did the next 53 in a row, will end his streak this year. As he explained in a Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger column on Sunday:

“Once my father, a minor-league baseball player, told me that all athletes have the same complaint — the legs are the first thing to go. I never imagined that would apply to 89-year-old sports columnists. I can still walk, but from this point forward, most of what you read in the future will be written from my desk here in the Las Vegas Valley. It’s a lot safer in Henderson, Nev., than the backstretch at Churchill Downs or during the hunt in the dark after the big game:  ‘Where the hell did they park the Super Bowl media buses?’

“I was 36 years old when I covered my first Super Bowl. Some of my best friends were there and some of them were giants in our business, a group scattered from the Atlantic to the Pacific oceans. I guess about 10 to 20 of them. We were sure we would all grow old together.

“I was closest with Eddie Pope (Miami), Blackie Sherrod (Dallas), Will McDonough (Boston) Jerry Green (Detroit), Jack Murphy (San Diego) and Jim Murray (Los Angeles). Because of the geography that separated us, each Super Bowl was a reunion.

“But each year or so, by Super Bowl time, we had lost another one of us. Today, Jerry and I are the only ones left among daily newspaper columnists who have covered every Super Bowl. I telephone Jerry a lot just to make sure he’s OK, and I’m thrilled that now he’s the lone owner of the Super Club newspaper guys’ attendance streak.”

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