Overheard at the Sportsbook

Of all the tinfoil-hat theories you’ll hear surrounding Super Bowl LI, the strangest one is that NFL commissioner Roger Goodell secretly wants the Atlanta Falcons to win the coin toss.

Why, exactly? Follow this logic: The New England Patriots always defer the opening kickoff to the other team, and then come out strong to start the second half. Goodell, no fan of New England, wants Atlanta to win the coin toss, defer to the Patriots and force them to receive the ball at the start of the game, thus spoiling coach Bill Belichick’s second-half game plan.

Whether or not you believe the coin toss can be influenced by the commissioner’s disdain for Tom Brady and the Patriots might affect the way you bet on the game. Spend an afternoon with bettors and bartenders at the Red Rock Race & Sports Book, and you’ll believe anything’s possible.

“I’m really glad the Falcons got in there because I like Ryan. Nobody wants the Patriots to win, including the NFL.” —An elderly bettor standing in line

“If they do the national anthem, I’ll take the under because it’s Luke Bryan, and he won’t go 90 seconds.” —A man skimming the list of prop bets

“I bet props yesterday. I got ‘safety.’ I got ‘Will there be a safety?’ ‘Will there be overtime?’ ‘Will there be three unanswered scores?’ I might do ‘coin toss’ just for shits and giggles. I figure the Falcons are gonna win.”
“What could possibly be the logic behind the Falcons winning the coin toss?”
“The Patriots always defer. Goodell hates the Patriots. I’m gonna put 10 bucks on it, I’m not putting the house payment.” —A bartender chatting with a local television personality

“Would you ever bet the coin flip?”
“You’re sick, but you’re not that sick?”
“That’s just a blind-ass bet, but if you know something about football, you’ve got a fighting chance.” —Two men reading through the list of prop bets

“I guess the moneyline is worth it. I’m dropping 100 on the Falcons.” —A young man to his friend at
the bar

“I don’t really like the game, but I’m gonna bet it ’cause I have to. I have a sickness.” —A gambler drinking vodka on the rocks at the bar