#football

James Vlahos:

By the opening kickoff of the Super Bowl, sports books in Nevada are expected to crack $100 million in wagers, the most that has ever been bet on a single game.

There is no greater unifier in American culture than professional football, which is followed by 68 percent of men and 42 percent of women — Republicans and Democrats in equal numbers. Game telecasts accounted for nine of the 10 most-watched programs in 2013, and the previous three Super Bowls were the most-viewed television programs of all time in the United States.

Crazy stats from a must-read on the state of sports gambling — which, I agree, is fueling the continued rise of the NFL at this point. I happened to be in Las Vegas during the AFC and NFC Championship Games last week, it was absolute mayhem. In every casino. Everywhere.

Peter Kafka:

The promotion is part of a new Facebook effort to get stars posting “public content” on the service — in the way that lots of people already do on services like Twitter and Instagram. As I’ve noted in the past, Facebook has been explicit about its pitch: Publish with us, and we’ll pay you back with eyeballs.

And now we can see exactly what Facebook is offering.

Facebook, your Twitter-envy is showing. So lame.

Nick Wagoner:

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell confirmed Friday that St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke informed the league of a recent purchase of a 60-acre tract of land in Inglewood, Calif.

According to Goodell, that knowledge didn’t come with any discussion of building or developing a plan to make the location the future home of a football stadium.

The Rams’ lease with the Edward Jones Dome contains an escape clause that is set to kick in at the end of the 2014 season. If the stadium hasn’t been upgraded to one of the eight best venues in the NFL before that time, the Rams’ lease will then become a year-to-year proposition beginning in 2015.

Pure coincidence, I’m sure.

I’m betting we see the Rams back in Los Angeles by 2017.

Ray Ratto:

In sum, the 49ers are everything one should want in a team, but somehow are not yet all that. They are not in Buffalo Bills territory yet, losing four consecutive Super Bowls and being remembered as the quintessential team that couldn’t finish the deal. They aren’t even the Denver team that lost three Super Bowl in four years, or the Minnesota team that lost four in eight. You can’t even say they’re getting a reputation for not winning the big one.

But 2014 will be a hugely important year, and not because of the gaudy new digs. The 49ers are that very good team that has the wherewithal to be great but hasn’t proven it in the all-in hand yet. What they have accomplished is very difficult. What they have not yet done is more difficult still.

I was quite (and perhaps unfairly) upset following the 49ers loss to the Seahawks last week. But after taking the week off to calm down a bit, this whole piece seems like a reasonable assessment.

[thanks @steven_aquino for sending it my way]

Saturday Morning Quarterback

Usually, a variation of the term found in my title is reserved for pundits second-guessing the previous day’s NFL games (especially when all but the Monday Night game were still on Sundays) — but rather than focus on any NFL game, I wanted to focus on the college football game I watched on New Year’s Day: The Rose Bowl.

Looking at the box score, it looked like a good game, a close game, in which Michigan State grinded out a win against Stanford. But watching it, I had a different sense. Put simply: when Stanford had the ball, it was one of the poorest examples of play-calling I’ve ever seen.

I know, everyone says that when their team loses. But that’s the thing: Stanford isn’t my team. I enjoy watching them now for a few good reasons (girlfriend is an alum, proximity to where I live, and respect for what the program has been able to accomplish), but I don’t really care if they win or lose in the same way I care when Michigan wins or loses.1

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ESPN:

Fans of the 49ers have raised more than $9,000 to purchase a billboard in Seattle aimed at taunting residents with images of the five Super Bowl trophies the 49ers have won as a franchise. The group’s website said as of Wednesday afternoon that $9,358 has been raised.

With the project expected to cost $7,000, the remaining money will be contributed to Seattle’s Children’s Hospital, according to project manager Aasheesh Shravah.

Brilliant.

Ben Cohen:

The school accounted for $9.7 million in football ticket sales on its 2012 annual report. The four teams ranked above Stanford in the latest Bowl Championship Series standings averaged $27 million, with Ohio State topping the list at $41 million. In merchandise sales, Stanford ranked 42nd this year on the Collegiate Licensing Company’s list of top-selling schools, well behind not just Texas but also Texas Tech.

The normal revenues Stanford receives from football are so low, in fact, that its 36 varsity sports teams depend on something no other school has, or would dare rely so heavily on: an athletics-only endowment worth between $450 million and $500 million that pays out at 5.5% each year, people familiar with the matter said.

Against all odds, Stanford has become a great college football program. I went to my first game last night (the 26-20 shocking of Oregon); amazing atmosphere.

Bill Williamson spoke with Joe Montana about his unhappiness that San Francisco wasn’t able to keep the 49ers within the confines of the city. But:

Montana is also pleased that the team is leaving Candlestick Park. He said when he is asked what the worst venue he ever played it was, he sadly had to answer that it was his own home field. He said the field was always wet and referred to its old nickname, “The Quagmire.”

It is a pretty shitty stadium.

Ian Scheffler:

Kerouac returned to the field the next fall, but didn’t stay long. He got a job at a Hartford gas station and started writing fiction at night. After a stint in the Merchant Marine, he rejoined the Lions’ roster in the fall of 1942. Then one day, he later told Neal Cassady, in a conversation transcribed in “Visions of Cody,” another autobiographical novel, he decided to quit football for good. “I said to myself ‘Scrimmage my ass … I’m gonna sit here in this room and dig Beethoven, I’m gonna write noble words.’ ”

With the NFL season now underway, this is timely. Maybe there’s nothing here. But maybe there’s not nothing here. Regardless, all the information now coming to light about football and head trauma is very disturbing. 

Samit Sarkar:

Microsoft’s partnership with the NFL also makes the Surface the official tablet of the league, and Microsoft hopes that teams will start to use the devices on the sidelines during games. We saw a brief demo of a Surface app called X2 that’s designed to allow team staff to more easily track concussions.

Something tells me we’re going to be seeing a lot of devices that look a lot like iPads on the sidelines but so obfuscated that you can’t quite make them out. Sure, they’re Surfaces!