Even the fading memory of a cocky Joe Namath engineering the biggest Super Bowl upset in history hasn't done much to help the San Diego Chargers in Las Vegas' legal sports books.
The biggest Super Bowl point spread ever grew even wider Monday--20 1/2 points at one sports book--as oddsmakers struggled to find a line enticing enough to draw some money on the underdogs.
Bettors not only don't think the Chargers can pull off an upset as the New York Jets did in the 1969 Super Bowl; they don't even like their chances of staying within three touchdowns of the San Francisco 49ers.
The 49ers beat the Chargers, 38-15, at San Diego on Dec. 11.
"We've done everything we can to attract money on the Chargers but there just isn't any," said Bob Gregorka, sports book manager at the Sands hotel-casino, where the 49ers were favored by 19 points. "The scary part about the 19 points is the sophisticated gamblers are not taking it. It's a sign for the future that says it will go even higher."
The 49ers opened as 17 1/2-point favorites in most Las Vegas sports books Sunday, the biggest line since the Baltimore Colts opened as 17-point picks over Namath's Jets 26 years ago.
The Jets won, 16-7.
"Out of respect to San Diego, I don't like it," 49er Coach George Seifert said of the point spread. "But we've been big favorites before. We have no control over that."
At the Excalibur hotel-casino, the line was at 20 1/2 points as book manager Eric St. Clair tried to bring in some money on the Chargers.
"We don't think anyone is going to bet San Diego unless they get the best price," St. Clair said. "We've had a trickle of money on the Chargers, but not enough to go back to 20 yet."