Monday, February 04, 2013


The Superbowl is over and we can all go back to leading our somewhat normal lives, now that the big game is done. Actually, it stopped being a "game" many years ago, when the TV execs. realized how much money could be made selling ads. And so it went from being a game to becoming a media event. Hype, hype and more hype. Getting up close and personal with the players, the owners, former players, the coaches and even the parents of the coaches. The sportswriters will even dredge up events from years ago in search of something to write about. Allowing for the occasional aberration, the games are usually boring and not up to the ballyhoo that we're subject to for two weeks.

It used to be fun.

Back in the 50's and 60's, football, especially professional football, was a gamblers sport. I'm not talking about the gamblers that are depicted in the movies or on TV, I'm talking about the neighborhood gamblers and bettors. It was more fun to win an argument than the money, because the money was gone in a week, but the kidding went on forever.

There was one saloon in my hometown where my Dad, my Uncles, cousins and a few friends would gather on Sunday morning to place their bets, but more importantly, to harangue one another over their opinions and drink their Sambuca, coffee royale and of course, beer. Not a lot of beer, because it was 5 degrees below zero outside and, according to my mother, "Beer isn't really drinking."

I would sit at the end of the bar, an 18-year old kid invited into the fraternity, look down the bar and see parlays, money and shot glasses spread out all over. There was never a lot of money, bets of $1, $2 and sometimes $10 were the norm. Then there were the gambling phrases: "Put this on a round robin, Tink."  or "I like that team, I'm gonna flat that one. Gimme 6-5 on Oakland with the spread."  And Tink, the rotund little barkeep and owner would waddle down the bar, pick up a parlay and say, "You're an idiot, I should book this one myself."

Yes, the insults would flow, but none of it was serious. It was just friends having a good time. Once, a patrolman on his beat walked past the front window, looked in and went to the door and knocked. They let him in and I was panicking, sure that I was about to be arrested. Instead, he stood at the bar, pushed the parlays and money aside and drank the shot that Tink gave him. "See you later," he said, and went back on patrol.

The nicknames were just as much fun. I already mentioned Tink. There was his brother Zinc-eye, along with Dog Malone, Midgie, Tootsie and Moon-eye. There was my uncle Curly, also known as Windy, my Dad, Joe Fab (also known as Pierre-y, for no logical reason.), even the cop on the beat, Joe Paeno, was known as "Yo-Rinnie." I was called "Student," a name which my professors disputed.

Yes, a simple party by today's standards. Just a little booze, some cigars, a little money and a lot of kidding. No food, no drugs and no women.

Just good times.

"Super Bowl XLVII is over. The Super Bowl XLVIII pregame show starts tomorrow."  -- Janice Hough
"Any bets Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis has been using a spray made from deer antlers? I'd say it's worth a few bucks."  -- RJ Currie

"By the way, I tried some of that deer-antler spray the other day."It didn't make me feel any better, but at night I got these uncontrollable urges to run out of the woods and dart in front of car."  Mike Bianchi
"The folks at Jell-O say they will hand out thousands of free cups of their colorful dessert Tuesday in the city of the losing Super Bowl team.Fans will get their choice of flavors — lime, orange or sour grape."  -- Dwight Perry
"During the fog-delayed Farmer's Insurance Open in San Diego, it was so foggy, Tiger Woods accidentally hit on his ex-wife."  -- Alex Kaseberg
"This year's 24 Hours of Daytona race features a Mazda that runs on biofuel made from chicken guts, pork lard and beef tallow. Or as NASCAR fans call that, Sunday dinner."  -- Jim Barach


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