NEWARK, N.J. – It is no surprise the Richard Sherman Show has transfixed New York in the run-up to Super Bowl XLVIII, but the impact of his comments and the public's perception of his personality have even been felt 2,500 miles away in Las Vegas.
Vegas sports books have been delighted by the Sherman factor, citing the Seattle Seahawks cornerback as the primary reason behind what is expected to be a record amount of cash wagered on Sunday's game.
For the first time Vegas could see a $100 million total spend on Super Bowl bets, with much of it attributed to the compelling storylines surrounding the matchup.
"No story is bigger than Sherman right now," said Jay Rood, vice president of racing and sports for the MGM. "He is definitely a big factor. People like betting against him."
Most Vegas books opened with the Seahawks a slight favorite over the Denver Broncos, only for that line to shift away from Seattle almost immediately. Several books reported that the weight of the money coming in was for the Broncos, pushing them to a two-point favorite, believed to be caused by a combination of Sherman's controversial nature and Peyton Manning's widespread popularity.
"I always place a wager on the game and I couldn't bring myself to back the Seahawks this year," said Oliver Hamm, an insurance salesman from New York who will fly to Vegas on Friday to meet friends for the Super Bowl, like he does every year. "If they won and Sherman celebrated in the same kind of way he did against the 49ers, that would leave a bad taste in my mouth – even if I had the cash in my pocket."
Sherman's rant into the microphone of Fox reporter Erin Andrews after his team beat the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC championship game was compulsive viewing but turned many people against him, even though he has considerably toned down his comments since.
Johnny Avello of the Wynn Casino said Sherman's positioning as the villain of this season's Super Bowl made sure fans were deeply involved in the matchup as soon as the teams were set.
"Anything that gets people talking and arguing and discussing over something, you are going to get a busy market," Avello said. "If people feel strongly about something, some of them are going to go ahead and put their money behind it."
Last year's game saw $99 million wagered on the Baltimore Ravens' victory over the 49ers. That stands as the record but is likely to be smashed on Sunday.
The closeness of the matchup is also a factor – no Super Bowl line has been closer since the 49ers took on the Cincinnati Bengals in 1982.
While Sherman has been on his best behavior during his media sessions this week, he returned to the spotlight when old comments he made about Manning's throwing arm were dredged up and re-reported.
Sherman is well aware of just how intently the focus is upon him, and admits that he enjoys it.
"I guess I am comfortable with my words," he said. "I am comfortable in front of a crowd."
Vegas is pretty happy about that.