LAS VEGAS — Jay Kornegay paused when he first heard Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers might land in Denver to play for his beloved Broncos.
“It’s almost like your heart starts beating faster,” said the vice president of the Westgate SuperBook. “Aaron Rodgers a Bronco? He’d change the whole organization. The Broncos go from a below-average NFL team to a contender.
“It’s exciting, as a fan.”
That first seed dropped about 10 days ago. But with each passing hour, Kornegay knows the likelihood of Rodgers donning a No. 12 Broncos jersey diminishes.
Broncos backers did respond at the Westgate, driving 60-1 Super Bowl LVI odds down to 20-1. On Monday, Kornegay bumped that to 30-1.
As the levelheaded boss of a prominent Las Vegas sportsbook, Kornegay can’t currently envision Rodgers anywhere but Green Bay, if he does play, in September.
For a moment, though,
Kornegay weighs a hypothetical inquiry. If Rodgers were to be dealt to Denver, which group would be happier, Broncos supporters or Bears fans, who’d say good riddance to their twice-a-season rival?
Kornegay laughs. “Certainly both would be happy, but I think Bears fans would buy Broncos fans drinks.”
CUE DON DRAPER
Rio de Janeiro-like Carnival might erupt in Chicago should Rodgers depart the Black and Blue Division.
He is 21-5 lifetime against the Bears. The apex triumph occurred on Jan. 23, 2011, when he led the Packers to a 21-14 victory at Soldier Field to reach Super Bowl XLV, in which Green Bay beat Pittsburgh.
He has thrown 55 touchdown passes against the Bears, who have picked off 12 of his 822 career attempts against them.
The Packers drafting Utah State quarterback Jordan Love last season was one source of Rodgers’s alleged irritations.
Another, supposedly, was coach Matt LaFleur opting for a field goal near the end of the Jan. 24 NFC title game against the Bucs.
The prima-donna quarterback and aspiring game-show host conveniently overlooks his failure to run it in on third-and-goal. Moreover, he has grossed $241 million and, for another $74M, is signed through 2023.
His persistent petulance brings to mind Don Draper’s famous “Mad Men” line: ‘‘That’s what the money is for!’’
NOT ON MURPHY’S WATCH?
During the draft on April 29, Denver’s Super Bowl odds were sliced to around 16-1 to 18-1 at various books as the “disgruntled Rodgers” theme gained steam. Golden Nugget sportsbook director Tony Miller cut his figure to 20-1.
Denver’s odds of getting Rodgers had been whittled to -150 (bet $150 to win $100) at FoxBet, Las Vegas was +250 and New Orleans +500.
On Monday at DraftKings, the number on Rodgers remaining with the Packers was -125, +200 on the Broncos, +500 Raiders, +900 Saints. At some shops, by midweek, Rodgers staying in Green Bay was -150.
Kornegay, a former Air Force brat who went to Colorado State and considers the Centennial State home, will not post a Rodgers-destination proposition.
“Those are difficult to book sometimes,” he said, “knowing that there is certain information out there.”
South Point book director Chris Andrews is staying away, too. On Wednesday, Andrews opened Green Bay at -150 to win the NFC North, Chicago at +400 and Denver +600 to take the AFC West.
Michael Lombardi, The Athletic’s NFL writer, said Monday on the Vegas Stats & Information Network (VSiN) that he believed Rodgers had finally had enough and planned to retire.
Tuesday on VSiN, William Hill U.S. director of trading Nick Bogdanovich tapped Green Bay’s projected win total in the upcoming 17-game season at about 11. Without Rodgers, he’d set that at 6½ victories.
Ultimately, Bogdanovich didn’t foresee team president Mark Murphy trading Rodgers. “You don’t want to do that on your watch.”
At DraftKings, the Packers’ season victory total is 10½. Johnny Avello, its sportsbook chief, projected it at 7½ without the 37-year-old Rodgers, who won league MVP honors last season.
“Aaron Rodgers wins you three games in a season with his heroics,” Avello told VSiN on Tuesday. “It would be a dramatic difference if he’s not the Packers’ quarterback. A big loss. He’ll be 38, but I think he still has some good fight in him.”
SENSES TAKE OVER
As draft day ekes farther back in his rear-view mirror, Kornegay becomes more convinced that Rodgers playing for Denver is more fantasy than fact.
The Broncos have quarterback Drew Lock, inspiring Kornegay to recall a favorite line from the 1983 movie “Risky Business,” when it dawns on Tom Cruise that the Ivy League will not be needing him.
Wearing a pair of dark Ray-Bans and grinning goofily, Cruise’s Joel Goodson says, ‘‘Looks like University of Illinois!’’
Kornegay says, ‘‘Looks like Drew Lock!’’
Teddy Bridgewater is also on Denver’s roster.
“I was very excited, a little giddy there for a little while, thinking [Rodgers to Denver] was going to happen. But time passed, the senses took over; shoot, this is probably not going to happen. Even though nothing has been totally confirmed yet, it doesn’t look like it’s going to become reality.”
We tangent to a hypothetical — and diabolical — Bears scenario, in which they fashion a fantastic season and advance in the playoffs only to lose to . . . the Broncos and No. 12 in Super Bowl LVI in California.
Kornegay relishes his Broncos winning titles. In that series of events, however, no Broncos supporter could expect a single gratis beverage from any Bears fan.