Super Bowl Crime Stories: Murders, The Mob, How To Get Help

Written By J.R. Duren on February 5, 2022
super bowl crime stories

Super Bowl bets are thrilling. They’re heartbreaking. They’re infuriating. And, in some tragic cases, they have been deadly. Super Bowl crime stories hit differently. In most cases, they seem so avoidable and unnecessary.

For an event that has attracted hundreds of millions of bets over its 56-year history, the Big Game’s underbelly is as wide and wild as they come. And amid all the stories of bets-gone-right and bets-gone-wrong, these are some of the heartbreaking tales.

Before we go further, if you or anyone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, the National Problem Gambling Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-522-4700. You can also visit ncpgambling.org/chat. If you’re worried you may have a gambling problem but aren’t sure how serious it is, the National Council on Problem Gambling has a 10-question quiz you can take to assess your situation.

Claim Your $1,050 Bonus at DraftKings Sportsbook

New Jersey man dies over $700 bet

Super Bowl XLVII was among the most memorable matchups in history. That year, the Baltimore Ravens beat the San Francisco 49ers 34-31. During the game, a power outage delayed the game in the third quarter by 34 minutes.

Newark resident Eddie Roberson bet his friend Talif Crowley $700 that the 49ers would win the game. The 49ers lost and Roberson refused to pay up. Two days after the game, Crowley was driving to a relative’s house when he saw Roberson. Crowly got out of the car and confronted Roberson. The men argued, Roberson said something about the 49ers being cheated out of a win, then shot Crowley dead. Three years later, Roberson was sentenced to life in prison for the shooting.

Texas murder result of a $40 Super Bowl Bet

Super Bowl XLV was the first and only championship for Green Back Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers and his coach Mike McCarthy. Rodgers three for 304 yards and three touchdowns against the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the Packers became the first NFC 6-seed to win the Super Bowl.

Fort Worth resident Jarami Thomas bet Edward Washington III $40 that the Steelers would win. Thomas didn’t pay up after the Packers won and, a couple of months later, Washington hired a hitman who murdered Thomas. In 2013, Washington was sentenced to 35 years in prison, and the trigger man received a 50-year sentence.

California party turns deadly after failure to pay

In Super Bowl XLIV, the New Orleans Saints and Drew Brees beat the Peyton Manning-led Indianapolis Colts 31-17. The Colts were driving down the field to tie the game with less than four minutes left in the fourth quarter when cornerback Tracy Porter intercepted Manning and ran it back for a touchdown.

During the game, a party in Antioch, Calif. turned deadly when someone made a bet during the game, then retracted it after he thought he wouldn’t win. His take-back led to an argument that extended past the end of the game. The fracas spilled its way outside and, at some point in the evening, a man’s gun went off and killed him. It was not determined if the shooting was an accident or an act of suicide.

Bookie recounts days of underground mob sportsbook

Yes, the mob running illegal sportsbooks is a real thing in Super Bowl crime stories. And thanks to the tales of John Merges, a former mob bookie, the world knows a little bit more about what the dark side of sports betting is like.

In an interview with the Chicago Sun-Times (CST), Murges recounted story after story of what life was like for a mob bookie.

Murges ran a sportsbook out of an old warehouse on the west side of Chicago. An enforcer nicknamed “Jimmy’ worked for him. When he started out, he had a team of four people who scribbled out odds on chalkboards and whiteboards. Around 12 people manned phones to take bets. Murges had around 35 to 40 clients.

Murges recounted what it was like running a book at the time of the 1985 Chicago Bears, who demolished the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XX. The Bears were the chalky pick, with the line moving as high as 13.5.

His book paid out tens of thousands of dollars because of the win. And because the payouts were so big, they arrived at his warehouse in vans.

“Big black bags and briefcases,” Murges told CST. “They stuffed money in envelopes. On the front were my initials, the customer’s number and the amount, written very small. Rubber bands kept the envelopes together.”

But what about when clients lost bets and didn’t pay? Murges sent them through the stereotypical chain of events. First, interest rates go up. Second, the enforcer is sent into action, which meant, at times, broken bones.

Be safe, bet legally, and know your limits

If there’s any takeaway from these Super Bowl crime stories, it’s this: bet legally and don’t risk money you can’t lose.

During Sunday’s Los Angeles Rams-Cincinnati Bengals game, the NFL will run a responsible-gambling ad that highlights its (new) stance on sports betting.

In the ad, former head coach Steve Mariucci writes out three bullet points on a chalkboard:

  • Set your limits, stick to them
  • Track your bets
  • Only bet what you can afford

Before we go further, if you or anyone you know is struggling with a gambling addiction, the National Problem Gambling Helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-522-4700. You can also visit ncpgambling.org/chat. If you’re worried you may have a gambling problem but aren’t sure how serious it is, the National Council on Problem Gambling has a 10-question quiz you can take to assess your situation.

J.R. Duren Avatar
Written by
J.R. Duren

J.R. Duren has written for a wide variety of publications, both online and print, including Snooth, the Villages Daily Sun, Bespoke Post, Our Amazing Norway, and Barcelona Metropolitan. He has thrice been recognized as a winner of the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism contest.

View all posts by J.R. Duren