'It's a real game changer.' What legalized sports gambling means for Chicago sports fans

'It's a real game changer.' What legalized sports gambling means for Chicago sports fans

The U.S. Supreme Court made a groundbreaking decision Monday by lifting a federal law that prohibited sports gambling outside of Nevada. Although the move is merely hours old, how it will impact fans is a hot-topic.

Brett Smiley is Editor-in-Chief of, a company that produces original reporting on regulated sports betting. He said that some states have laws "ready to go," though Illinois has conversations that are on-going.

"Illinois, they have conversations that are ongoing, there are a number of bills on the table, some of them closer to completion or not" Smiley said to NBC Sports Chicago. "I think the legislative session runs for a bit longer in Illinois, so there’s definitely some runway for them to get something done. 

"I would think with the events from today, they’d be more likely to do so."

Illinois' legislative session ends May 31, giving the state a few weeks to put something together. The state has been proactive in getting something together, according to Yahoo Sports' Jay Busbee.

"Illinois is one of many states which took a proactive look at the Supreme Court’s case and decided to get ready if the tides broke sports gambling’s way," Busbee said. "In January of this year, the Illinois Senate introduced the 'Sports Betting Consumer Protection Act,' one of two bills designed as a framework for sports gambling in the state, to be updated and codified once the Supreme Court ruled."

Smiley mentioned several options for how fans will be able to place bets once laws are in place.

"The way it’s looking in every state is that they’ll either need to go to a casino or a riverboat [casino] in some cases," he said. "They should have an online component, so either an app or an online [website] where you can go.

"Hopefully you wont have to go into casinos to register for any of these, but it will be both of those things."

Smiley said that it is "a bit of a reach" regarding kiosks potentially being opened inside stadiums to place bets. However, he said that fans should be able to make a wager on their phones during a game.

The specific sports available to bet on will depend on the state, though Smiley said that states will offer "diverse menus" of events to keep pace with offshore sports books. Ultimately, he said today's decision is a game changer.

"This is a watershed moment for sports and sports betting in the US," he said. "The NFL helped usher in this law in 1992 and what it’s really done is only help an underground black market flourish. It’s a real game changer."

Open competition might be what Mitch Trubisky needs to salvage Bears' career

Open competition might be what Mitch Trubisky needs to salvage Bears' career

I used this space on Friday to explain why I see Nick Foles as the clear favorite to be the Bears’ starting quarterback in Week 1 of the 2020 season. Based on the information we have, it’s easy to see why Foles should beat out Mitch Trubisky in the Bears’ “open competition.” 

And I very much believe that'll happen. But I do want to acknowledge something here, an unknown of sorts: We don’t know how Trubisky will handle a legitimate competition. 

“The competitor that Mitch is, the way that he was with us was really neat to see because he embraced it,” Matt Nagy said. “It wasn’t about excuses, it wasn’t about anything other than, ‘OK, I understand that, I’m gonna give you everything that I’ve got, we’re gonna compete, and you’re gonna get that best that I’ve got.’”

Nagy and Ryan Pace both talked up Trubisky’s competitive nature when discussing the Foles trade over about 40 minutes on Friday. It’s all they can talk up at this point — anything else about his game or past results would’ve been hot air. Maybe the competitiveness thing is hot air, too. 

But this brings up a question that’s lingered as Trubisky’s career has drifted into disappointing territory, so follow my tangent: Why wasn’t he North Carolina’s starting quarterback sooner in college? 

Trubisky sat behind Marquise Williams for two and a half seasons before taking over as the Tarheel’s QB1 in 2016. Williams spent one training camp with the Green Bay Packers before being cut and spent the next few years as a backup in the CFL, AAC and XFL. 

Trubisky -- the second overall pick in 2017's draft -- couldn’t beat that guy out? Huh?

The thing is, though, there wasn’t really a competition in Chapel Hill for the Tarheels’ starting gig. Williams QB’d five consecutive wins to get North Carolina to a bowl game in 2013, then was pretty good in six-win 2014. North Carolina went 11-1 in 2015, Trubisky’s third year on campus, with Williams as their guy. 

Former UNC quarterbacks coach Keith Heckendorf explained to me after the 2017 why there wasn’t truly a competition for Trubisky to win. 

“That success we had as a team with Marquise made it hard for us to pull him out of the lineup,” Heckendorf said. “And I think if (Williams’ success in 2013) hadn’t happened, there may be a completely different conversation. It was not for a lack of talent, it was not because (Trubisky) wasn’t capable, but it’s hard to take a guy who had the success — not only as the team winning but individually — as Marquise had and put him on the bench for an unproven commodity.”

Of course, if Trubisky were lighting things up in practice and limited game reps, he would’ve forced UNC’s hand. He didn’t. 

But the point is Trubisky’s failure to win a starting gig in college sooner wasn’t necessarily the product of him losing an open competition. He pushed Mike Glennon as a rookie in 2017, but he didn’t show up to training camp in a true “battle” (especially as he QB’d the third-team offense so much). He took over for Glennon because, first and foremost, Glennon was a disaster. 

So we don’t really know how he’ll handle a competition the Bears are framing as fair and even. 

Could Trubisky all of a sudden grow with the challenge to his job? Could the mere presence of Foles get him to start hitting more deep balls, or make the right reads at the line, or help him avoid those head-scratching interceptions? 

Probably not. Football types love to say competition brings out the best in everyone, but it’s hard to see it erasing three years of inconsistent tape. 

But we don’t know for sure. For what it's worth, this worked for Kyle Fuller three years ago, when the Bears signed Marcus Cooper and Prince Amukamara and he wound up winning his old job back, and then keeping it. 

Trubisky, too, still has more upside than Foles. The Bears would much rather start the version of Trubisky Pace hoped he was getting in 2017 rather than a 31-year-old with 13 starts over the last four years. 

Still, Foles is most likely going to be the Bears’ starter when the 2020 season begins (hopefully on time). But the Bears should at least take a look at Trubisky in a true competition. 

It may not need to be a long look. But it should be a look. 

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Vic Fangio: Draft process will be tested this year

Vic Fangio: Draft process will be tested this year

Former Chicago Bears defensive coordinator and current Denver Broncos head coach Vic Fangio has long been known as an old-school coach who brings a tough and grizzled approach to the locker room.

He's also an old-school talent evaluator who said the disruption to the 2020 NFL Draft process caused by the COVID-19 outbreak will test the scouting adage that suggests a prospect's college tape is the majority of his final grade.

“I think every year you hear people say — scouts and coaches and personnel people — that 90 percent of the evaluation is off the tape,” Fangio said during a conference call with reporters on March 31. “The other 10 percent is the combine and pro days and all the other stuff that goes on with it. This is the year it will really be tested.

“A lot of times you can guess how fast a guy runs generally speaking. It’s more important what the tape is. That’s what everybody says. This will be the year that it is really put to the test."

With team headquarters closed around the league, front offices can't hold prospect visits or workouts at their facility. Similarly, teams can't put prospects through medical re-checks to finalize their 2020 draft grade. There are going to be uncomfortable leaps of faith taken by general managers this year.

But as Fangio said, it's mostly about the tape anyway. At least, that's what the NFL wants you to believe.