- - Thursday, February 2, 2017


As we prepare to celebrate the national holiday in America known as the Super Bowl, we have become well aware of the dangers for those who perform the ceremony of football.

Like a surgeon general’s warning on a pack of cigarettes, you will likely see a commercial sometime during the pre-game programming or the contest itself an NFL-sponsored commercial for flag football for kids.

If you haven’t gotten the message by now that playing football puts Tom Brady, Julio Jones and the rest of the New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons at risk Sunday, well, then you’ve already likely had too many concussions.

But what about watching football on this national holiday? How dangerous is it to watch the Super Bowl?

Here is an addendum to that surgeon general’s warning — betting, arguing, or watching the Super Bowl with friends can be hazardous to your health.

Typically buried somewhere in the newspaper — a brief item, perhaps, mixed in with the stories about everyone’s favorite Super Bowl commercials — you will likely see a story with a headline like this: “Man shoots friend over Super Bowl bet.”

The stakes are high on Super Bowl Sunday, and so are the tensions, on the field and at the parties.

Eddie Roberson wasn’t happy when he lost a $700 bet to his long time friend, Talif Crowley, at a party in Newark, New Jersey, on Super Bowl Sunday in 2013, when the Baltimore Ravens defeated the San Francisco 49ers 34-31 — the Super Bowl when the lights went out in the Superdome in New Orleans.

According to NJ.com, here’s how the story went.

The two friends were at a Super Bowl party when they made the bet — Roberson picking the 49ers and Crowley the Ravens. Baltimore won, but Roberson refused to pay.

When Crowley saw Roberson two days later while driving to his mother’s home, he got out of the car, and the argument began. Roberson yelled at Crowley, “They cheated my team” and then pulled out a gun and shot Crowley.

“Losing the bet seemed to be the motive,” prosecutor Adam Wells said as Roberson was sentenced last February to life in prison.

Three years earlier, when the New Orleans Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in the Super Bowl, Jose Becerra, Jr., was particularly upset about a bet someone made at his Super Bowl party in Antioch, California.

Here’s how that story went, according to the San Jose Mercury News: Someone at Becerra’s party had made a bet during the game on the Colts but then backed out when it became apparent they were going to lose. That set off an argument that led to Becerra getting his gun and demanding everyone leave.

Soon after, Becerra was dead from a gunshot to the head. No one was charged, and the autopsy ruled out foul play. Investigators had a hard time figuring out how Becerra died, though, because they said witnesses were intoxicated, and there were “significant” amounts of marijuana and psilocybin mushrooms.

Whatever happened that led to Becerra’s death, it began with a Super Bowl bet.

Those bets — they can be fatal, even if you aren’t at a party.

It was Facebook that led to the Super Bowl death of Jarami Thomas in 2011.

Thomas, who lived just a few miles from the site of Super Bowl XLV at JerryWorld in Arlington, Texas, had made a $40 bet on the Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers, on Facebook with his friend Edward “Tre” Washington, according to CBSDFW.com.

Thomas refused to pay, and some more social media messages and threats led to an agreement to settle the debt with their fists at an Arlington convenience store. But the story goes that when Thomas and his friends got to the store parking lot, a friend of Washington’s, Clevin Earl Brown, Jr., got out of their car and shot Thomas dead. Two years later, Washington was sentenced for 35 years for orchestrating the killing. Brown was sentenced to 50 years.

Sometimes, the Super Bowl can be the silent killer.

Last year, a Cornell University study showed that older fans whose teams play in the Super Bowl are at a greater risk of death — by the flu.

Yes, the study, which analyzed flu deaths in the United States from 1974 to 2009, found that communities that had teams playing in the Super Bowl had an 18 percent increase in flu deaths for older adults. Researchers believe that Super Bowl parties with groups of people increase the chances of getting the flu, especially for those who have teams playing in the game.

“You have friends over for a Super Bowl party,” said Nicholas Sanders, a Cornell professor and and co-author of the study, in a statement. “You all go out to a bar to watch the game. A bunch of people are cramped in a small space, and they’re all touching the same napkins and grabbing the same chips. If your team wins, you’re all out in the street, celebrating. It’s that kind of disease transmission that we think might be a driving factor.”

Doritos, death and disease on Super Bowl Sunday. You’ve been warned.

Thom Loverro hosts his weekly podcast “Cigars & Curveballs” Wednesdays available on iTunes and Google Play.

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