But then, on Thanksgiving weekend, Danny Sheridan went bust. He made seven picks and every one lost. "I apologize," he wrote in his next newsletter. "I wish I had passed on the Thanksgiving games." He might better have closed shop for the entire holiday season. He missed eight of 10 bowl games. Nine of 11 if you count Oklahoma State's 49-21 romp over Brigham Young in the Tangerine Bowl. BYU wasn't listed as a pick, but Sheridan did write, "I was leaning toward BYU against Oklahoma State because I think [the] game means more to them." He finished the year picking Minnesota to beat Oakland by three points in Super Bowl XI (for a $50 fee to newcomers). With the Raiders' 32-14 victory, Sheridan slipped to 71-69-1, 50.7%, leaving the $100 bettor who played every pick a $490 loser.
This season, as of Nov. 20, Sheridan's record is even worse. He is 37-43-1, or 46.2%. Still, his star is rising. Beginning Oct. 7, Sheridan was hired to make weekly picks on the Good Morning America show. For television, he picks winners of games, not winners against the spread. This is much easier. Herschel Nissenson of the Associated Press, for example, picks game winners weekly and his record is currently 71.3% correct. But Danny Sheridan's record on TV is only 22-22-1. "It's just a fun spot," says Patty Mitnick, a Good Morning America researcher in charge of the Sheridan segment. "Besides, he tries to pick upsets."
On occasion, however, Sheridan also seems to be giving clues as to which team he thinks will cover the spread. Three weeks ago, for example, he said he liked Notre Dame to beat Clemson, but that the score would be respectable. People who bet might easily interpret that to mean Notre Dame wouldn't cover the 10� Point spread. Which it didn't. But Sheridan's record against the spread on GMA is 20-25, 44%, roughly his tip-sheet average. Two of Sheridan's "picks" are not included in this total, because bookmakers don't have a "what if " category. On Oct. 7, while discussing the Alabama-USC game, Sheridan said he liked the Crimson Tide to win by one point, or USC to win by 17 or more. Alabama did, in fact, win by one point. Two weeks later, Sheridan announced that he liked Minnesota to beat Los Angeles by three points in overtime, or the Rams to take it by seven points or more in regulation ( Los Angeles won 35-3 in regulation). Across America, viewers who follow these things were scratching their heads.
The last time this magazine saw Danny Sheridan he was an excitable, likable, self-assured curiosity. Often he would blurt out wild predictions, guesses about football and life itself. One night at a dog track, moments after the No. 3 dog had crossed the finish line a winner, Sheridan leaped from his seat, shouting, "See! I told you No. 3 is going to win all night long!" It was the first we heard of it, and no other No. 3 won the rest of the night.
Sheridan's thoughts drifted back to football. "I'm afraid to wager," he said. "It's illegal and I know if I do the IRS will catch up with me." His thoughts shifted to the future. "I'd love to quit real estate for a couple of years," he said. "I have this talent and I believe I could make a million dollars. I'll bet I could pull it off. Maybe start a tip sheet or something. Get a million in banks and bonds in two years and then live like a king off the interest."
The two years have passed. It seems that Danny Sheridan might connect on one documented prediction.