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As I See It

29 May 2002

As we turn the calendar to June in a few days, it has become a ritual to post season wins for the upcoming pro football season. A testy prop to book because it is so volatile but a season-long bet that will keep your interest in most cases down to the final week.

A brief history of the prop, and then on with the show.

I was running the show at the Golden Nugget in the spring of '89 while the Mirage was being built. We were getting quite a rep for taking some big stands on events, and I truly liked to accommodate our players. The Nugget had some huge casino customers and quite a few were from the Lone Star state.

One in particular was a guy named "Hamburger" Jack Kellar. He got his name from a string of beer and burger joints he owned, and liked to play as high as a giraffe's behind. Remember, that was the time when Jerry Jones became the owner of the Dallas Cowboys, and with coach Jimmy Johnson unceremoniously pushed Tom Landry out. Landry did not have a stellar record his last few years, and a lot of people including Jack thought they would get some of that "America's team" flavor back.

I was standing at the counter talking to some friends as we were all ready to leave for Caesar's Palace to see "Sugar" Ray Leonard fight Donnie La Londe when Jack, in that slow Texas drawl, asked me how many games I thought the Cowboys would win that year. Being a bookmaker at the time I simply responded by asking him how many did he think they would win. He didn't say anything.

I said give me a few minutes, and I came up with 6½, but really had no idea at that time if I was in the ballpark. Without hesitation he turned to his wife, turned her purse upside down, and out came a lot of money: $38,500 to be exact. He said I bet they win 7 games, to win $35,000.

At that time, the computer couldn't take that type of bet, so I told him he had the bet but we would need a little bit of time to get the computer set up. He agreed, and we all went to the fight. The people at the counter were intrigued and it was the topic of conversation as we departed. I thought that would be the end of it.

When we got to the fight, some time during the course of the evening I was approached by Skip Bayless, who at the time was the loudest voice in the Dallas area when it came to the Cowboys. He had heard about the bet and we talked for a while.

It was probably a week later when I was contacted by the hotel PBX supervisor, who told me that we were getting a large number of calls asking if they could do the same on their team. Well, she did not know what they were talking about, and I started to piece it together.

What Skip had done was write a piece for the Dallas paper, and when the A.P. picked up the story it appeared in all the leading newspapers in the country.

So I sat with Russ Culver and said, let's do this for all the teams. We did, and got loads of action and attention for a lot of years. It spread to other sports as well. By the way, the Cowboys went 1-15 that year and until this day, whenever I see Jack, he nods and says, Jimmy I owe you one.

Well that stuff is history. I will give you an early peek at my numbers for this year.

We now have 32 teams, with the newest franchise, The Texans, jumping in to give us 8 four-team divisions.

RAMS 11½

Each year the defenses catch up a little bit more on this touch football style of play.


A healthy Bettis will make them the class of a mediocre division.


The Correll Buckhalter injury in my view looms very significant.


A new division and a new coach should at least turn their 6-10 record last year completely around.


Bill Callahan takes over an aging but effective offensive group which should at least match last year's win total.

49's 10

Mariucci will have his hands full keeping a gag order on T.O. and could spell trouble.


I keep writing Favre off and he keeps winning games.


Getting Greg Comella from the Giants to lead block for Eddie George should make a huge difference.


Interesting move as the Bears hired ex-Bill Don Beebe to teach "team speed"; they better hope it rubs off on Jim Miller.

BUC's 9½

First time in over a decade that they will move training campsite. Will practice at Disney's Wide World of Sports complex. How about that for a new attraction: "Chucky" and Mickey Mouse.


Not sold on the Ricky Williams deal and they play in a pretty even division.


The only Florida q.b. who hasn't tried out is Spurrier. Should be interesting.


Last year will become a fading memory.


With Brian Griese at q.b., I think 9 wins is a stretch.


New home, new division, new hope.


If Vinny is not mobile how long can Edwards wait to make the move to Pennington?


Now we will find out if Brian Billick is a "genius".


William Green is the definite X factor.


A solid 3rd in the NFC North.

JAGUARS 7½ Brunell and Taylor need a lot of help and it's just not there.


Vermiel will be crying again this year after they fire him.


Might surprise as they are in a weak division, the NFC South.


After a great start and a lousy finish last year, it will be interesting to see who is under center on September 8th when they open up at Cincinnati, Flutie or Brees?


The decline continues.


With the Steelers, Packers, 49ers and Browns at the dome, 7 is the right number.


Is this the year?


Can Bledsoe at least double last year's win total?


Good draft but Quincy Carter must improve.


Should be more competitive but still find too many ways to lose games.


Look for Matt Millen to have his head in his hands quite a few times again this year.


After 1-15 last year, 4 wins should leave new coach John Fox thinking he had a good season, but he won't.


Carr will have decent help but will still have a huge learning curve to overcome.

Well there it is … my predictions for the upcoming season. A few will overachieve and a few will underachieve. It should be interesting.

Stay well and keep in touch,

Jimmy V

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