Buc-ing the odds
To Albert Realini of New York City, it pays to go against the crowd.
The investment banker, who watched Super Bowl XXXVII at Harveys Sports Book on Sunday night, bet on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to beat the Oakland Raiders.
Oakland was favored to win by four points, but Tampa Bay’s commanding 48-21 win made Realini $1,000 richer last night.
“I’m a contrarian. I knew it would be a blow out,” he said, as the crowd roared upon Tampa Bay’s last touchdown in the remaining two minutes.
While donning a Raiders cap, Chris Schwegel of Pleasanton sat quietly.
“I’m not completely surprised. They’ve got the No. 1 defense in the league,” he said of Tampa Bay.
“Their defense was better than I thought. And they’ve got (quarterback Rich) Gannon rattled,” said Tim Reyes, who showed up at Rojo’s where he’s a bartender, wearing Raiders attire.
But most fans from the Rockwater to the Stateline casinos were off the roads and glued to televisions in amazement by the Bucs’ dominating performance over the tough-guy Raiders.
“I thought it was going to be closer,” said Gordon Lovett of Pleasanton said, who was saddled up to the bar at the Fresh Ketch. According to the crowd barometer that reacted loudly with a touchdown that put Tampa Bay ahead by 24 points in the third quarter, the fans seemed evenly split.
“I’m a 49er fan, but I want anybody to beat the Raiders,” Lovett said.
The crowd was just as split at Steamers, which was packed with party-goers and football fans.
“The fans showed up, but the Raiders didn’t,” Emily McElyea said, threatening to bury a Tampa Bay fan’s face in the snow because he heckled her.
The South Lake Tahoe woman changed her tune when the Raiders blocked a punt and ran the ball in for a touchdown.
“Yes, yes,” she yelled, and the bar came alive with die-hard supporters of the boys in silver and black.
Not everyone was rooting based on offensive or defensive prowess.
“The red ones,” Karen Osborne of London said of her pick. “I’m learning because I know nothing about this game.”
The blonde received a quick education from her date.
Kelly Ebert, who watched the big game at the Fresh Ketch, said he and his local companion, Monica Eisenstecken, agreed to disagree. As she stuck by the Raiders, the Los Angeles man said he was supporting Tampa Bay because he likes head coach Jon Gruden.
To John Macedo of Carson City, this year’s Super Bowl was Gruden’s show because “both these teams were his product.” Gruden coached the Raiders last year before taking Tampa Bay all the way in his first season with the ball club.
Macedo said the display of might by Gruden was not an example of sweet revenge because “it was his choice to go” and leave the Raiders.
The former University of North Carolina running back won $120 on betting the over — knowing the combined score would surpass 44 points.
“I took this bet because the Bucs like to pass a lot and so does Gannon. But the advantage for the Bucs was the running game,” he said.
Henry Perez was just happy his team won. Perez, who was vacationing in South Lake Tahoe from Tampa, watched the game from the Harveys Sports Book with his buddy, Macedo, but he only bet $5 in a pool at his office.
He banged on the table when Tampa Bay sealed its victory with an interception-turned-touchdown in the last few seconds.
“This is sweet. Everybody thought they were going to lose,” he said.
Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com.
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