Wild Bill’s Sports Roundup

Bill Turner

Around here, The Chief says it’s OK to be late, if you’re right.

So, it’s never too late to revisit the Super Bowl where the Ouija was right. Plus, a little local high school basketball. Here we go without further ado.

Without a doubt, the past month has been one of the most interesting in this column’s history.

Readers came out of the woodwork to comment and ask questions on the unforgettable Super Bowl LI. The New England Patriot’s miraculous 25-point comeback to force overtime was one for the ages. Unless, you had bet on Atlanta and took the 3 points…That move turned out to be a disaster of Titanic proportions . . . with multiple icebergs.

I’ve been asked what I felt was the most influential play of the big game and if I had to pick one that won it for New England, I’d pick a play by Matthew Slater.

Slater is listed as a wide receiver for the Patriots, despite the fact he has only one career catch that took place in 2011. Likewise, it wasn’t a play on special teams or his punt coverage skills since New England didn’t punt a single time during its comeback. It’s the play Slater made at the beginning of overtime.

It’s Slater’s job as special teams captain to make the pick for the coin toss. It’s no secret Slater is a “heads” guy, having chosen that result every time in the past six seasons. But during the opening coin toss, he came up empty when George H.W. Bush pitched a “tails,” giving Atlanta the choice to kick, receive or defer, and supposedly giving the “tails” bettors an early proposition win.

But, not so fast. Virtually no one pictured the first-ever overtime in Super Bowl history only hours in the future. Nobody, except this column’s Ouija. Once the Patriots forced overtime with two straight fourth quarter touchdowns, followed by two successful 2-point conversions, a SECOND coin toss was necessary.

Slater once again called “heads” and this time – like the Ouija – he was right. New England got the ball first and scored. Atlanta, with one of the top offenses in the NFL never got the chance to run an offensive play. Many readers wondered why they didn’t get a chance with the ball. But, since 2010, when the NFL reworked its overtime rules, each team has been guaranteed a possession or the opportunity to possess, UNLESS the team that receives the opening overtime kickoff scores a touchdown on its first possession. Yes, you always learn something in this column. Adios Atlanta.

That, as the Ouija also predicted, made New England a winner by covering the 3-point spread.

For the record, one Vegas sportsbook took a $1.1 million bet on Atlanta, with he or she in great shape to pocket $1 million midway through the third quarter. The biggest bet on New England was reported to be $200,000, although Vegas’ CG Technology says more than 60% of all its bets were on the Patriots.

Well, there you have it. Tom Brady and this column’s Ouija: a pair of MVPs.

Now, to local sports where several Big-11 members remained in the state championship basketball hunt at press time. (First week of March). The best chances to see boys local teams will be Wednesday night at 6:00 in the VIS Division III quarterfinals when North Cross hosts Roanoke Catholic or Friday afternoon at the Salem Civic Center when William Fleming takes on Jamestown at 2:30 in the Group 4A quarters. For those fond of traveling, Northside takes on John Marshall Thursday at 5:15 at VCU in Richmond. The winner advances to Friday’s 5:15 state semi-final at VCU.

On the girl’s side, Roanoke Catholic hosts Kenston Forest Tuesday, with the winner traveling to Chris Chapel on Wednesday. Hidden Valley takes on Tabb at 5:15 at VCU in Richmond, with the winner advancing to Friday’s 3:30 state semifinal at VCU.

Lastly, to the mailbag where one reader calls The Ouija “lucky” while another asks about my perseverance during Super Bowl LI.

Dear Luckpot: You got to admit your pick of a New England win was pure luck. You were 25 points behind in the third quarter! (Harold/Daleville)

If you say so, Harold. But, Vegas doesn’t pay on who’s ahead in the third quarter.

Until next time send your questions to: info@theroanokestar.com.