How What Looked like a Losing NFL Football Wager Turned into a Winner
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.”
This opening excerpt from one of my favorite novels of all time, Charles Dickens A Tale of Two Cities, speaks to so much in life, but for the purposes of this article it speaks to the 1998 AFC Championship game.
Why you ask? Well, I’ll tell you. It’s because of the Denver Broncos and the New York Jets. And the only reason I bring it up is two-fold. I needed a subject for my NFL article this week and this NFL matchup, helped facilitate one of the best wins of my life.
Let’s rewind. I just happened to be in Las Vegas during week two of the 1998 NFL Season and I watched the Denver Broncos absolutely dismantle the Dallas Cowboys, 42-23. After the game I checked the Super Bowl futures and the Broncos stood at 6-1. So, I decided to put a hefty amount on John Elway and the Broncos to win the Super Bowl.
They went on to a 14-2 regular season record and crushed the Miami Dolphins 38-3 in the Divisional Playoffs. Beating a team coached by a guy named Jimmy Johnson who thought his shit didn’t stink. Well, his shit did stink in Miami. So overrated. But that’s another story.
The Broncos went on to host the Conference Championship against the New York Jets. The New York Jets? You hear that and you think it’s a boat race. But no, this is when the Jets were good. When some guys named Parcells and Belichick had a team that went 12-4 during the regular season. A team that boasted two 1,000 yard receivers, Keyshawn Johnson & Wayne Chrebet. A team that had a running back with 1,652 yards from scrimmage, Curtis Martin. And at QB was Vinny Testaverde, who threw for 3,256 yards, 29 touchdowns and 7 interceptions. Their defense also ranked second in points allowed.
Even more fortunate is that the Minnesota Vikings who were huge favorites to not only win the NFC Championship, but the Super Bowl, lost earlier in the day to the Atlanta Falcons. Gary Anderson, who had not missed a FG or extra point all year, who had not missed a FG in 2 years, missed a 39-yard field goal, which would have put the Vikes up by 10. Instead, the Falcons scored a touchdown and won it with a field goal in Overtime 30 – 27. The defeat would make the Vikings the only team to ever have a 15-1 record and not make the Super Bowl.
This was it, kismet. With the Vikings out, the Broncos just had to beat the Jets and the Super Bowl and a big winning ticket was ours.
Denver was -9 on the Vegas line and playing in front of a sold-out home crowd, so there was little doubt they would beat the NY Jets and go to the Super Bowl. But the Jets had other plans and “that’s why they play the game.”
Here’s where the tale of two halves thing comes in. After being so excited and so sure the Broncos were going to win, I was totally downtrodden when the same Broncos who had scored 501 points during the season, put up a goose egg and trailed 3-0 at the end of the first half.
No time to panic, but that was a crappy half of football, with the Broncos gaining all of 82 yards, leaving me crying in my beer. The second half didn’t start much better. After two 4 and outs and a total of 12 yards for the Broncos, Curtis Martin scored from the one and just like that the Jets were ahead 10-zip.
But just when you think your bet is a loser or a winner for that matter, the galaxy has a way of intervening. Let’s just say “it ain’t over til it’s over.” Denver would score a touchdown on the next drive and after a Jets fumble on the ensuing kickoff, they tied it at 10 apiece.
Denver would go on to score a FG and a TD on their next two drives to go up 20-10 and add another FG late to get the win 23-10.
The moral here is akin to what Gloria tells Billy in White Men Can’t Jump, “Sometimes when you win, you really lose, and sometimes when you lose you really win, and sometimes when you win or lose, you actually tie, and sometimes when you tie, you actually win or lose. Winning or losing is all one organic mechanism, from which one extracts what one needs.”
Fortunately, my extraction from this game, which looked like a loser at many times, ended up turning into a big payday because well at the end of the day, it’s the Jets. Sorry Jets.
This week I was tempted to take the Jets +10-, but while I think the Broncos are a little overrated and this line is inflated, I can’t take the Jets. After all, it’s like my daddy always said, when you bet bad teams, bad things happen.
So, I’ll go against another bad team starting a rookie QB and take the Browns -7-.
If you’re apt to make a wager, head on over to BetRivers, Fanduel or DraftKings and check out the action. And as always, I hope you are fortunate.