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Frank Reich on gambling policy: “It’s a big deal”

Mike Florio and Myles Simmons give Sean Payton credit for recognizing there’s a comprehension issue with the NFL’s gambling policy and taking action to educate players in a different way.

If it wasn’t already clear that the NFL’s gambling policy is a big deal, the events of this past week have made it abundantly clear.

On Friday, Panthers coach Frank Reich chimed in, confirming the obvious about a policy that has resulted in six player suspensions, the suspension of a coach, and at least two pending investigations in less than two years.

It’s a big deal,” Reich said, via Mike Kaye of the Charlotte Observer. “Obviously, we fully support and agree with everything the league is doing in this area. It’s something to be taken very serious. So, you approach the education process through multiple efforts, a lot of it -- we have a great support staff -- and then the league sends in people to do training, more formal things. But then there’s a lot of informal discussion with our development people. And it’s an ongoing process, right? This is a new issue, players and coaches -- we all need to continue how important this is for the integrity of our game and fully support what the league is doing.”

The intersection between gambling and the integrity of the game nevertheless remains confusing. Players can bet on sports other than NFL football, as long as they don’t do it at the team facility or while traveling on team business.

As it relates to the integrity of the game, that makes no sense. A player can literally stand on the sidewalk outside the team facility and place bets on, for example, baseball or basketball. If the player steps inside the building and does the same thing, the integrity of the game has somehow been compromised.

It should be one or the other. Either gambling on all sports other than pro football should be permitted, or it should be prohibited. Location shouldn’t matter, if the goal is protecting the integrity of the game.

Frankly, there’s no reason not to allow legal wagering on other sports. In the old days, when bets on sports other than football could be placed only illegally, there was a risk that a player would rack up a debt that could be leveraged into something nefarious, such as inside information or point shaving. Now, with legal bets being placed via apps on phones, there’s no risk of players having to choose between getting their thumbs broken or, for example, sharing information about who’s really injured and who isn’t and/or what the offensive game plan for the next game is.