Looking back at the 50th anniversary of The ‘Heidi’ Game

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Half a century ago, what former NBC broadcast supervisor Dick Cline believed to be just “another week of the NFL,” came an event that would forever alter how people experience live sports. It’s been 50 years since the famous ‘Heidi game’, a historic matchup between the American Football League rivals the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders on November 17th, 1968.

The showdown aired live on NBC and was famously nicknamed after Heidi, a movie about a young Swiss orphan, unceremoniously cut in to the game’s live broadcast. Cline was in charge of making sure the children’s movie aired on time – even if there was 1:05 seconds left in the game and the Jets are up 32-29.

That week in particular, NBC, the sales department and the telephone company confirmed that the 7:00-9:00 pm time slot had been sold to Timex. That slot was to be used to air Heidi and Cline was under strict instruction to make sure it aired at its allotted time.

“When the sales department said at 7:00 o’clock we have to go to Heidi, we didn’t think anything of it because a game never ran long, ” Cline said, as NFL games never ran over 7:00 pm in the past.

At 7 sharp, just as scheduled, Cline aired Heidi. Not long after, phone calls flooded the station, causing NBC’s switchboards to blow out. There was such a large volume of angry callers waiting to demand the game be put back on that the station required new fuses to keep the switchboards running. Many people called, but no one at the station could answer.

When asked if there were any complaints in particular that he could remember, Cline said that because of the rate at which the calls were coming in that caused issues with the switchboards, the calls couldn’t even be answered.

“They didn’t do a whole lot of talking,” Cline said jokingly.

One of the many incoming calls came from NBC’s president at the time, Julian Goodman. Goodman was eager for the game to be back on air and made efforts to contact Cline using a private line, but by then, there was nothing Cline could do.

“In 1968, there were no satellites, there were no cellphones. I had no way of getting back to the telephone company which was controlling the lines and telling them to go back to the game.”

As some viewers sat back and enjoyed Heidi, the Jets ended up blowing their lead. The Raiders scored two touchdowns in just nine seconds, winning 43-32. That’s when the wrath from fans really surfaced.

“They were more unnerved that not only did they not see the last minute and a half of the game, the Jets lost the game.”

Cline had been prepped by the network on how to handle situations where time runs over, but the Heidi game was the first time they experienced that. That game changed the standard for televised football games today, where the protocol now is to air the game until it is complete.

Looking back, Cline has no regrets about the decision he made to air Heidi instead of finishing the game. Though he didn’t see it as such at the time, that very choice changed the course of televised sports.

Patriots settle as small favorites on Super Bowl odds 2019

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For all the narratives that can hang off the great Tom Brady and Super Bowl first-timer Jared Goff, two of the big moving parts in the matchup on Super Sunday involve the rushing phase.

The New England Patriots have settled as 2.5-point favorites on the Super Bowl odds 2019 against the Los Angeles Rams with a 56.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com in the Super Bowl 53 matchup slated for Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta on Sunday.

The Bill Belichick- and Brady-led Patriots are 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games as a favorite of 3.0 or fewer points, according to the OddsShark NFL Database, while the Rams are 4-3 straight-up and ATS in their last seven games as an underdog. Interestingly enough, underdogs are 13-4 ATS in the last 17 Super Bowl games.

As so often happens, the last two teams standings are in good health. The biggest exception for New England, whose run defense has been league-average much of the season, is that defensive tackle Malcom Brown (calf) was limited in practice. The Rams claim leading rusher Todd Gurley (left knee inflammation) is 100 per cent after he had only five touches during the NFC championship game two weeks ago.

Backing the Patriots, who are 13-5 SU and 11-7 ATS on the year, involves putting stock in Brady and cohorts’ abundant Super Bowl experience, along with the fact the offense has been at peak form, averaging 38.7 points and 465.7 yards per game over its last three outings.

The Patriots’ offensive line will arguably be the unofficial playoff MVP, collectively, if it contains the Rams’ front four anchored by Aaron Donald, the best defensive lineman in football. If Brady, the subject of many Super Bowl props for Sunday, isn’t disrupted and/or the opposing pass rush is sucking wind after a ball-control drive, the Patriots passing game is lethal.

The Rams, 15-3 SU and 9-7-2 ATS, are new to the tumult of the Super Bowl. However, head coach Sean McVay thrives at creating mismatches, and two of the Rams’ season-long strengths, running out one-back, one-tight end sets and using play-action passes, are not tactics that New England has defended particularly well.

Goff also led five game-winning drives during the season, emerging victorious in quarterback matchups against stars such as Drew Brees, Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson (twice).

The total has gone OVER in seven of the Patriots’ last eight games in the playoffs. New England’s last four closely contested playoff games have featured 68, 74, 44 and 62 points.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.

First commercial, Trump Tweets, Gatorade color among Super Bowl LIII props

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Fans watch the Super Bowl for the commercials as much as the game, which also lends itself to Super Bowl props.

For instance, Bud Light is the -105 favorite have a commercial appear first during the telecast at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The brewer has a long track record of attention-getting ads, and making a first impression can whet the appetite for something later on in the evening.

Budweiser (+200) is a second favorite on that prop and there might be longshot value on Stella Artois (+550), whose ad will include Jeff Bridges and Sarah Jessica Parker reprising their respective roles from The Big Lebowski and Sex and the City. Michelob Ultra (+550) and Bon & Viv Spiked Seltzer (+550) are also on the board.

The total number of commercials is set at 96, with both the over and under priced at -120. In the car commercial prop, Hyundai (-250) is favored against Mercedes-Benz (+170), but it might be worth playing a hunch since the February 3 game is at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Atlanta has also been hit by wintry weather this week, and it’s -140 on the Super Bowl 2019 prop bets on the stadium’s roof being closed against even money for open.

The previous two championship matchups each had over 60 points scored, and the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams are certainly capable of trading touchdowns. It is -140 that any scoring drive will consume less game time than however long it will take Gladys Knight to perform The Star-Spangled Banner.

As far as coach props, the over/under is 1.5 on broadcaster references to the relative youthfulness of 33-year-old Rams coach Sean McVay, with the over (-220) favored against the under (+155). Los Angeles is the underdog on the 2019 Super Bowl odds.

There is also a total set for the number of tweets from President Donald Trump’s Twitter account during the big game. Over 6.0 tweets is a -140 favorite with the under an even-money underdog. It is -650 on Trump not attending the game and +375 on him showing up. He did not attend Super Bowl LII in 2018.

A cross-sport bet is whether Houston Rockets star James Harden’s streak of 30-point games – 24 and counting – will end before Super Bowl LIII does, with -120 odds either way. Harden’s next two opponents, the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz, have each managed to keep him under 30 at least once this season.

As far as props that pay off postgame are concerned, there is the ever-popular bet on what color liquid the winning coach will be doused in after the game. Clear / water (+220) is a slim favorite over lime / green / yellow (+225), followed by orange (+400), blue (+400), red (+600) and purple (+1000). The Patriots, for what it might be worth, have poured a clear liquid on coach Bill Belichick following each of their four most recent Super Bowl wins.

For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news check out the OddsShark podcast with Jon Campbell and Andrew Avery. Subscribe on iTunes or Spotify or listen to it at OddsShark.libsyn.com.