LAS VEGAS — Scroll back with me to January 20, 1980, when the Steelers and Rams were getting ready for Super Bowl 14 in Pasadena.
Mrs. Ecks and I were married on January 12 and decided on Florida for our honeymoon. A few days on Sanibel and Captiva islands and then back home where I had just hooked a job with the New York Daily News as the betting guy.
So, the betting guy is getting ready for Super Sunday and after studying for hours decided to grab the Rams +10.5 points over the Steelers. After collecting shells for a few days, among OTHER activities, we decided to go all Miami Vice, all Crockett and Tubbs, and take a whirl into the Everglades.
We scoped out Everglades City on the map and drove 90 miles into the middle of literally NOWHERE! We found this joint called Captain Jack’s, which seemed like the perfect spot to watch the Super Bowl.
We checked in on Saturday, got a little cabin, then went to dinner. Surprisingly, aside from the waiter, the maitre d’ and one guy sitting alone in the corner, it was just me and Mrs. Ecks in this ginormous dining room. A little odd considering we’re an hour from the nearest town.
The waiter had on a tux with white gloves, the maitre d’ was in some kind of fabulous sharkskin suit and the guy in the corner introduced himself as Perry. We had a SUPERB five-star dinner, with shrimp cocktails to start, and a couple of humongous lobster tails. Perry, in heavily accented English, offered up dessert with his SPECIAL blend of Colombian coffee.
He also invited us to watch the Super Bowl with him in the dining room the next day. Called my bookie and hit him for 20 times on the Rams at +10.5. Back in the day, before the Supremes made it legal, everyone had a bookie. My guy was Ralphie Numbers, and when you asked for 20 times, that was $100. A pretty substantial wager for a guy making just $350 a week at the Daily News.
Mrs. Ecks had NO freakin’ idea about betting, point spreads or bookies. And she always asked me why we needed to stop at the pay phones a dozen times while we were out on a date. I explained that the first call was to the bookie to drop the bet, then the next 11 calls were to the sports phone scoreline that updated scores every 15 minutes.
Looked really strong with plus 10 and a hook going into the fourth quarter, with the Rams up 19-17. Then Pitt scored twice and rolled to a 31-19 win. Perry didn’t really react to the final but did open up a solid GOLD humidor and passed me a cigar.
Fast-forward three years when an armed convoy of more than 200 drug agents and police swept into town, blockaded the only road leading in and out, and pulled off a major crackdown.
A dozen people were arrested that day in Everglades City at – you guessed it – Captain Jack’s. Apparently Perry, or as we later found out, PABLO FREAKIN’ ESCOBAR, was nowhere to be found.
Of course you gotta have some action for the Super Bowl this weekend, and I’m on the Eagles -1.5 points over the Chiefs. Not really thrilled about the side, too many what-ifs on both teams, but will have a delicious bowl of props coming up on my website, www.americasline.com.
The reason for my lean to Philly is a statistic that I can NOT get outta my head. The Eagles led the NFL with 70 sacks this season. Lemme scream: SEVENTY SACKS! The next closest was Kaycee at 55.
One of the props we’re looking at is the Iggles’ Kenneth Gainwell OVER 1.5 receptions. Why? The Chiefs defense has allowed the MOST receptions and second-most targets to running backs. Enjoy, bet smart, stay safe & profitable!
Benjamin Eckstein is a nationally syndicated sportswriter/oddsmaker. His column, America’s Line, with the Ecks & Bacon appetizer, has run in the New York Daily News and over 100 other papers since 1988. You can follow him online at www.americasline.com. He is beloved by most, when he picks winners, and detested by others, when he picks the occasional loser. If you wanna piece of Eck, hit his Email...firstname.lastname@example.org.