OBSERVATIONS: Burrow hopes Super Bowl goes up in smoke

By Hal McCoy

UNSOLICITED OBSERVATIONS from The Man Cave and with snow up to the bottom of Malachi Smith’s basketball shorts, what else can I do but slap together another ‘Observations.’

—Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow is a boon to the cigar industry. . .well, at least to the La Flor Dominicana Mysterio.

That’s the brand he lights up in the locker room to celebrate big victories and it has caused a run on the brand. Tobacconists like The Wharf in Beavercreek and Straus in Cincinnati can’t keep them in stock, even though they are $20 a stick (That’s cigar talk for one cigar).

What? Twenty dollars each? So you expected a classy guy like Burrow to torch an R.G. Dunn or White Owl or Grenadier?

As a devout cigar puffer myself, I destroy about three a day and Nadine says, “Why don’t you just take a $50 bill every day and burn it?” And I say, “Because Ullyses S. Grant doesn’t taste as good as a Montecristo White Label Churchill.”

—Speaking of cigars, when Red Auerbach coached the Boston Celtics, when the game was in hand Auerbach would sit back in his coaching chair and light one up.

Andy Furman, one of the all-time promotional geniuses, worked for the old Cincinnati Royals. One night, when the Celtics were in town, Furman had the team pass out 5,000 cigars to fan entering the old Cincinnati Gardens, instructing the fans to light up when the Royals had the game clinched.

It didn’t work. The Celtics won, Auerbach lit his cigar, and 5,000 fans went home with unwrapped cigars.

And why did Auerbach do it?

“It all boils down to this,” he once told the magazine ‘Cigar Aficionado.’ “I used to hate any coach that was 25 points ahead with three minutes left and they’re up there yellin’ and coachin’ because they’re on TV. To me, the game was over. The day’s work is done. So I would light a cigar and sit on the bench and just watch it. Why not? I gotta win by 30? What the hell difference does it make?”

Or, as somebody once said about former Cincinnati Reds owner/chain smoker Marge Schott, “Smoke ‘em if you got ‘em.”

—‘Mattress Mack,’ the Houston furniture salesman who makes outrageous sports wagers, struck again. He wagered $4.5 million on the Super Bowl, the second largest wager Caesers Sportsbook has taken on a Super Bowl.

Somebody bet $4.9 million that the St. Louis Rams would beat the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXVI. The Rams and the bettor lost, 20-17.

‘Mattress Mack’ is not wagering on the Rams. He took the underdog Bengals and if Cincinnati wins, he wins $7.7 million.

If they lose, he is out $4.5 million, but what’s $4.5 million to a guy who sells Saatvas, Dreamlands, Nectars and Sertas a box car at a time.

—QUOTE: Yes, ‘Mattress Mack’ will nearly double his money if the Bengals win, but here is what cartoonist Kin Hubbard said about it: “The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket.” (I tried that, but $500 was still $500 when folded in half.)

—If the Cincinnati Bengals want some help to beat the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, they should call the University of Dayton basketball office and ask for Anthony ‘Ram Killer’ Grant.

His Flyers just played three straight teams with the ‘Rams’ nickname and beat them all —Fordham, Rhode Island and Virginia Commonwealth.

I called it a Ram Trifecta, but my great friend Tom Westendorf said it better, “A Ram Slam.” And my DDN colleague, David Jablonski, the hardest-working sports journalist in America, called it a “Sheep Sweep.”

Is it too late for UD to schedule Angelo State, 
Texas Wesleyan and Colorado State — all carry Rams as their nicknames.

—Bill Fitch, the Cleveland Cavaliers first coach, died this week at age 89. Fitch was a wit with a quick quip.

Former Cleveland sports writer Burt Graeff tells this one about Fitch. During their first season, the Cavs were in San Francisco and Fitch forgot his pass. A security guard would not let him in and said, “How do I know you’re the coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers?”

Fitch paused, scratched his chin and asked, “Do you know what the Cavaliers’ record is?” The security guard said yes, that it was 0-and-14.

Said Fitch, “Then do you think I would tell you I am coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers if I really am not?”

Without hesitation, the guard opened the door for Fitch and said, “Go right in.”

And when the game was over, the Cavs were 0-and-15.

—QUOTE: From former Cleveland Cavaliers coach Bill Fitch on Wilt Chamberlain: “I won’t say Wilt Chamberlain is the strongest man I’ve ever known, but when he wipes the sweat off his brow people in the balcony get a bath.”

—College basketball never fails to enthrall me in so many ways.

On Thursday night, Gonzaga played at the University of San Diego. For 10 minutes, 7-foot-0 skinny-as-a-garden hoe freshman Chet Holmgren did not take a shot. The USD student section chanted, “Overrated, overrated.”

Then, in the second half, in a 1:36 span, 96 seconds, Holmgren scored 11 points. A gym never got so quiet so quickly. His splurge began when he blocked a shot, retrieved the ball, dribbled to the top of the lane and swished a three-pointer. . .this from a seven-footer.

He finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds as Gonzaga rolled, 92-62. He is a freshman but already listed as a No. 1 NBA draft pick.

Holmgren took only two official campus visits. . .Gonzaga and Ohio State.

—With negotiations going nowhere, MLB owners have asked for a federal mediator to enter the fray. The Players Association has to agree and it is in the process of checking its constituents.

Federal mediators have helped settle the 1981 baseball lockout, an NFL lockout, an NBA lockout, an NHL lockout and MLS negotiations with on-the-field officials.

Do we really want government intervention? Well, yes, if the mediator can get those doors unlocked and we can get on with spring training.

Of course, the players said no. So the rattlesnakes can take over Goodyear, Ariz. And I don’t mean the Diamondbacks? I mean the real thing, like the rattler a Cincinnati Reds catcher once found coiled in his red gear bag.

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