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October 1, 2014

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Ice Ice Billy

Spending an NFL Sunday at a sports book

Tim Tebow showed again Sunday that he is like a drunk driver who never gets pulled over. No matter how many involuntary lane changes he makes, he always gets home.

Tebow also figured prominently in the time John Katsilometes introduced me to an NFL Sunday at the sports book.

Kats’ warning was explicit. This is an art form. And that is exactly what an NFL Sunday at a Las Vegas sports book is.

The frame of reference, here, is important. Working in professional sports for a couple of decades can lead to two behaviors. The first is that which includes consuming sports data through an IV drip 24 hours a day to the point that one knows what Albert Pujols earns per sneeze, and sneaking to the bathroom to manage one’s fantasy league investments so the boss never knows.

The second is that of watching little or no sports programming on television in a delusional effort to retain the right to claim that sports are not an identity and any separation from them establishes life’s critical balance.

With the notable exception of Formula One racing (my dog and her name can attest), I am the latter.

So when my friend Kats asked me to join him at the lively and enticing Lagasse’s Stadium he armed me with the verbal survivor’s guide.

He said, for example, to be careful to not react to replays as if they are live action. This may lead to a mocking crowd chant of “reee-plaaaaay.”

Also, he said, a trick was to be aware of who is cheering for which game on which TV. When the guy in the Seahawks jersey screams, “Booyah!” be prepared to find the Seattle game on the third TV from the left in the third row. Otherwise, the cause for said celebration may forever be lost, and curiosity never quenched.

Actually watching the guys in the Seahawks jerseys, a third tip was uncovered. Don’t overreact to your team scoring unless you are prepared for the play to be called back for a penalty. Once the play is nullified, an equally as boisterous, “Aww c’com! You’ve got to be kidding me,” will be required. Think of it as a public apology of sorts.

Good tips, all.

If you are this far along - and to be clear, you are - you’ve likely gathered that I had never taken part in the Sunday football sports book experience, though like a six-dollar coffee there is one on every corner. It’s a sheltered life for me. And so I kept the highlights of Kats’ user guide in the forefront of my mind like the installation manual for a wireless home network. I strapped into a very comfortable leather sofa, perused a taunting menu, and gripped a mid-morning coffee for my ride-along experience.

And I failed.

The feature game was easy enough to follow, the Chargers and Jets on a stellar high-definition projection system. I mean, wow. Would that work in my house?

Then the commercial with the cowboys in bigger and bigger cowboy hats and mustaches came on and I was on the floor laughing. That last guy could hardly get through the door. “Look, Kats!” I said, tone deaf to Tebow’s tipsy two-minute adventure down the freeway that forced an eventual overtime win.

Something happened on one of the smaller monitors that was cause enough for an explosive cheer. I searched frantically for the display to which they must have reacted. All I found was the beer truck riding a wheelie across a football field. Pretty cool special effects with impeccable comic timing.

The prime rib sandwich was served to our table. “This is worthwhile,” I said to Kats. “Want half?” It was time for a cocktail, and then another.

Chants of “Tebow, Tebow, Tebow” were overtaken by the chant of “Go! Go! Go!” from a table of Jets fans to my right. I looked up and the car in the commercial actually parallel parked itself. “Go!” is right, I thought.

This was most certainly an art form.

I finally succumbed to the excitement and got involved. In the end, I took the talking baby playing the stock market and the points over the GEICO caveman in a cheerleading costume.

He was giving up to twenty percent on my car insurance.

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