Around the time David Akers drilled his 63-yard field goal at Lambeau Field in the 49ers' 30-22 victory over the Packers, I had an epiphany: To visit a different Las Vegas sports book each week of the NFL season.
I was seated in the former Las Vegas Hilton at the time of this epiphany, which may or may not have been prompted by the site of a guy wearing a replica Warren Sapp Tampa Bay Buccaneers jersey ... and an authentic leather helmet.
LVH celebrated its first NFL opening week in the post-Hilton era. If success can be measured by hundreds of guys convening to watch football, drink cheap beer and wear such jerseys as Sapp's old No. 99 or Peyton Manning’s new Denver Broncos No. 18, it went great.
“This is the best place to people watch you’ll ever find,” LVH Superbook Director Jay Kornegay said in reflecting on NFL Week 1 at the hotel. A committed Broncos fan, Kornegay swapped his weathered No. 7 John Elway jersey for the new shirt bearing Manning’s name and number. Thus, Kornegay, the QB of the weekly Football Central showcase, blends right in.
LVH managed to overfill its theater for the first week of NFL action, as it was standing-room-only for most of the early games. The 1,800-seat space, where Elvis performed during his Las Vegas heyday, is legendary for its versatility. Before Sunday, the most recent activity in that room was a rocking performance by Chicago (the rock band, not the Bears). Before that, Michael Douglas sauntered across the stage, and even soared above it, with the help of some magic rigging, as Liberace for the HBO movie “Behind the Candelabra.”
Kornegay expects something of a lighter crowd this weekend, 15 to 20 percent, which is typical of any NFL season. The theater is open each week, free admission, with cheap beer and sodas and bar-type food. All the games are splashed across the theater's LED setup, and you’ll know where to find Kornegay. He’s the one in the Manning jersey.