3 Super Bowl Scandals, And The Bet Sweats That Came Next

Written By J.R. Duren on February 4, 2022
super bowl scandals

Lights going out. Deflated balls. Prostitution arrests. And then there are the halftime wardrobe malfunctions. At times, Super Bowl scandals have stolen the headlines for the NFL’s biggest game.

The bright lights of the world’s biggest football stage leave nothing in the dark, unless you’re the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers. So here’s a down and dirty list of the biggest WTF moments in recent Super Bowl history.

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The Night the Lights Went Out in NOLA

Imagine being the Baltimore Ravens seconds after halftime of Super Bowl XLVII. You’re up 21-6 as 4.5-point underdogs against the 49ers. You receive the second-half kickoff. Jacoby Jones tracks David Akers’ booming kick and catches it nine yards deep in the end zone. Eleven seconds later, Jones strides into the end zone for a record-breaking kickoff return.

Everything is going Baltimore’s way to cap off the 2012 season.

The 49ers get the ball back, and while CBS is showing a replay of a Ravens sack, the lights go out. TV viewers can’t hear the broadcast booth. They cut to John Harbaugh pointing to the lights and flashing a WTF expression.

It was eerie. And it lasted for 34 minutes.

When the lights came back on, it was a different game. The Ravens lost their momentum and almost lost the game. San Francisco, trailing by 5, had first and goal from the 7-yard-line with less than three minutes left in the game. The Baltimore defense held, and the Ravens snuck out the win 34-31, taking a late safety to burn the final seconds off the clock.

Ravens fans floated conspiracy theories because the timing of the outage was too convenient. However, an investigation of the incident revealed a faulty relay outside the stadium caused the outage.

As for betting, the outage didn’t make a difference to pre-game lines. The Ravens were a 4.5-point underdog but those with Baltimore on the moneyline sure had an odd, scandalous sweat.


Super Bowl scandals don’t always happen at the Super Bowl.

Patriots hate peaked at the end of the 2014 season when news broke that the Pats allegedly deflated balls to gain a competitive advantage against the Indianapolis Colts in the AFC Championship Game. Long story short: five of the 11 footballs the Patriots used during the game were below the required PSI, making the balls (in theory) easier to throw and catch in rainy and cold weather.

The scandal didn’t stop the Patriots from beating the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XLIX. However, the team paid the price. The league fined them $1 million, they lost two draft picks, and Tom Brady was suspended for the first four games of the 2016 season.

Adding to the crescendoing ire against the Patriots was what happened at the end of the Super Bowl.

The Seahawks had the ball at the 1-yard-line. Instead of handing the ball off to battering-ram running back Marshawn Lynch, Seattle Offensive Coordinator Darrell Bevell chose to pass.

Russel Wilson dropped back, looked to his right, then fired a pass to Ricardo Lockette. Undrafted rookie cornerback Malcolm Butler stepped in front of Lockette and intercepted the pass, leaving the entire football universe wondering exactly what Chris Collinsworth wondered aloud after the play.

“I’m sorry, but I can’t believe the call. I cannot believe the call,” said Collinsworth. “You’ve got Marshawn Lynch in the backfield; you’ve got a guy that’s been borderline unstoppable in this part of the field. I can’t believe the call.”

Seahawks backers couldn’t either. Seattle opened as 2.5-point favorites, which dipped to around a pick ’em by kickoff. Instead of cashing tickets with a 31-28 Hawks win, the Patriots won another Lombardi, 28-24.

Eugene Robinson and the $40 Fumble

The Falcons were 7.5-point underdogs in Super Bowl XXXIII against the Broncos to close out the 1998 season, and our guess is what happened the night before the game left Atlanta backers banging their heads against the wall.

Every year, the NFL bestows the Bart Starr Award on one player in the league who, above all other players, exemplifies outstanding character and leadership wherever he goes. The day before the Super Bowl, the league presented Eugene Robinson with the Bart Starr Award.

That night–yes, the same day–Robinson was arrested for offering $40 for the services of an undercover cop posing as a prostitute.

Robinson, a 35-year-old free safety, started in the Super Bowl the next after being released from custody Saturday night with a notice to appear in court next month. After a rough night, the biggest game of his life did not go well.

The Pro Bowler surrendered an 80-yard touchdown pass from John Elway to wide receiver Rod Smith. In the fourth quarter, he missed a tackle that sparked a chunk play by Denver running back Terrell Davis.

Denver destroyed Atlanta 34-19 and Robinson agreed to return his Bart Starr Award after his doozie among Super Bowl scandals.


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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.

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