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Sports Bettor Loses $24,000 After NFL Safety Wager Goes Wrong

The Bet Would Have Returned Less Than $1,000


Sometimes a “sure thing” isn’t always a sure thing. While sports bettors who wagered on the Philadelphia Eagles were collecting nice winnings after Monday’s 14-point victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Philly was favored by five points), one prognosticator may have been rethinking his own choices.

A BetRivers Sportsbook user reportedly plunked down $24,000 for a shot at a $960 return if neither team scored a safety. When the Eagles registered a two-pointer in the third quarter, however, that $24K disappeared like a wager on the Chicago Bears to win the Super Bowl last season (and probably this season).

Two Points Costs $24,000

The safety is the rarest score in football and occurs when a defensive team tackles an opposing ball carrier in his own end zone. A safety can also be awarded if a player runs out of his own end zone.

A New York Times report in 2011 noted that these infrequent scores occur roughly every 14 or so games. So, the Eagles-Bucs bettor must have felt pretty secure that a safety probably wouldn’t happen. But when Bucs running back Rachaad White was engulfed by the Eagles defense in his own end zone, that likely small winner became a big loser.

Through three weeks of play, this marked the fourth safety of the season – and quite a tough way to lose five figures. One Twitter user responded to news of the bet by noting the “horrible risk/reward.”

Another user hypothesized that the bettor might be savvy and gets paid off on that same bet quite often. “That’s probably a bet this bettor makes and wins all the time. I’d bet overall this person makes money on these kinds of bets.”

History of the Safety

Scoring a safety often energizes defenses and fans alike. Along with two points, the offensive team is also forced to kick the ball back to the team recording the safety. The quirky scoring rule dates back to the game’s earliest days.

“Walter Camp’s foundational 1893 rulebook assigned two points to a safety without any real rationale,” FiveThirtyEight reported in 2020. “Unlike just about every other football rule (including the point values of touchdowns and field goals), the point value of a safety hasn’t been touched in the intervening 127 years.”

Since 1940, nine NFL games have seen both teams score a safety. Since 1923, there have been 37 games in which one team scored only a safety, the last coming in 2013. Of those, five games featured scores of 2-0 and two with scores of 3-2 (all in the 1920s and ‘30s).

Safeties have also been scored nine times in the 57-year history of the Super Bowl. Which team holds the NFL team record for most in a game? That honor goes to the Los Angeles Rams after scoring three against the New York Giants on Sept. 30, 1984.

Former Ram Fred Dryer (later an actor and star of the Hunter television show) also holds the individual safety record after racking up a pair for a total of four points against the Green Bay Packers on Oct. 21, 1973.

*Photo source – Wikipedia