Gambling has always been a touchy subject when it comes to sports. Many reputations, careers, and sometimes entire sports have been ruined because of wagering.
Pete Rose was banned for life for betting on his team to win, NBA official Tim Donaghy did prison time for point shaving, and who can forget the infamous Chicago Black Sox and Shoeless Joe Jackson?
Gambling allegations and match-fixing also essentially ended boxing as a serious sport, giving way to the rise of mixed martial arts and cage fighting. Horse racing has also long been plagued by doping and cheating allegations.
In short, gambling on sports can be a bad bet. However, people always follow the money, and athletes are no different.
In the past year alone, numerous NFL players have received hefty suspensions for gambling. Star receiver Calvin Ridley got a one-year rip while with the Atlanta Falcons, and this year several Lions players will be missing significant time as well. The latest player is cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. of the Indianapolis Colts. His punishment hasn’t been determined, but it likely will be severe, considering the growing problem in the league.
The #NFL recruited future HOF QB Tom Brady to deliver a powerful message to players amid Gambling allegations of several players.
Brady emphasized how playing in the NFL is a privilege of a lifetime pic.twitter.com/WZxcFSWc4o
— NFL Rumors (@nflrums) June 8, 2023
So, what can a league like the NFL, which is so deep in bed with gambling sites like Fanduel and Draft Kings, do about the problem that won’t seem like utter hypocrisy? They can’t allow it among the players and employees and can’t terminate their hugely profitable partnerships with gambling sites, so what’s next?
"*" indicates required fields
How about the GOAT?
Tom Brady, the greatest quarterback of all time (save the arguments for later,) has been tapped by the league to do a gambling PSA to be shown at all team facilities. Will it work? That remains to be seen, but Brady is a respected figure fresh out of the game with a mostly sterling reputation on the field and off (besides kissing his kids on the mouth.)
According to Mike Klis of 9News, Brady recorded the introduction to an educational video on gambling that will be shown at every team facility.
Brady highlights his love for football in the recording, pointing out that playing in the NFL is a privilege and that betting undermines the integrity of the league.
It would seem to be an obvious statement that betting would wreck the league’s integrity. However, that hasn’t stopped many players, and likely many more have done it and not been caught.
No one is implying, yet, that any games have been fixed or any outcomes influenced on behalf of gamblers, either legal or otherwise. But considering the circumstances surrounding last season’s Super Bowl, and the dubious officiating, the league needs to get ahead of the issue while they can and nip it in the proverbial bud before too much damage is done.
Will a Tom Brady PSA help? It certainly won’t hurt, and credit the NFL for at least trying a more subtle approach rather than simply going scorched Earth and kicking offending players out of the league.
Teams like the Atlanta Falcons, who lost arguably their best player for a full season before trading him to Jacksonville simply don’t have the depth and talent to replace stars like Calvin Ridley. The worst-case scenario can’t be allowed to materialize, busting one of the elite players in the league for gambling.
The damage to the NFL’s reputation if someone like Joe Burrow or Pat Mahomes were implicated in a gambling scandal, would take years to repair. Credit the league with at least using the biggest name of our lifetime to try to stem the problem.