Some Super Bowl bettors will pay more attention to what Peyton Manning says at the line of scrimmage than what he does after the ball is snapped.
Online sportsbook Bovada.lv is taking wagers on the number of times the Denver Broncos' quarterback yells “Omaha” as one of his pre-snap calls during the NFL's Feb. 2 championship game against the Seattle Seahawks.
The over/under is 27 1/2 and is among a series of more than 400 proposition bets, or props, released today by Bovada.
“I guess it goes to show that people will bet on almost anything,” said David Brown, the president of the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.
Other Super Bowl props include the length of opera singer Renee Fleming's rendition of the national anthem before the game (over/under of two minutes, 30 seconds) and the temperature at the time of kickoff at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey (over/under of 34 degrees Fahrenheit). Yet the Manning-Omaha prop might be among the most unusual.
If a bettor chooses the “over” and Manning says Omaha 28 times or more, he would win the same amount he wagered. He'd lose his bet in the same situation if Manning said Omaha 27 times or fewer.
Manning, a four-time Most Valuable Player in his 16th professional season, constantly audibles at the line of scrimmage, changing plays to adjust to the opposing defense.
Among his most frequent calls in the postseason has been “Omaha,” which he shouted 44 times in a second-round win over the San Diego Chargers, helping draw five offside penalties. Manning, 37, was coy about its meaning before the AFC championship game.
“Omaha is a run play, but it could be a pass play or a play-action pass depending on a couple things: the wind, which way we're going, the quarter and the jerseys that we're wearing,” Manning joked. “So it varies, really, play to play, so there's your answer to that one.”
Before the AFC title game against the New England Patriots, eight Omaha-based companies, including ConAgra, Mutual of Omaha and Omaha Steaks, pledged donations to Manning's Peyback Foundation for each time he said the city's name. Manning said Omaha 31 times against the Patriots, resulting in donations of $24,800 for his foundation.
Kevin Bradley, sportsbook manager at Bovada, said his research consisted of looking at how many times Manning said Omaha in relation to the amount of plays he runs, while considering that the novelty of that call might have worn off.
“I went a touch lower than he has said in the last two games,” Bradley said in an e-mail. “For outrageous props like this and our experience doing them, we try to put up the number we feel will get the most two-way action but at same time once we see how money comes in on it, the line can move down to 20 or up to 40. You just never know.”
Props account for about 30 percent of the money wagered on the Super Bowl at Bovada, which is based in Kahnawake, Quebec. More than $10 billion is projected to be bet on the Super Bowl worldwide, legally and illegally, according to handicapping information Website Pregame.com.
Brown said while he won't be wagering any money, he and his colleagues at the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce are rooting the Manning-Omaha prop pays off the over.
“We've enjoyed all the attention,” Brown said in a telephone interview. “I know I hope he tops the number of Omahas from the last two games. I think this is the closest Omaha will get to being in the Super Bowl.”