NFL conducts media conference call regarding efforts to train players on gambling policy
The NFL is becoming more and more sensitive to mounting criticism regarding the failure to properly train players regarding the do’s and don’ts of the gambling policy. The latest proof comes from the fact that the NFL conducted on Tuesday a conference call with reporters regarding the ongoing efforts to educate players on the gambling policy -- in the hopes that those reporters will write stories and/or post tweets about the league’s efforts.
We weren’t invited to participate. But that’s a different story altogether, the details of which we won’t bore you with.
NFL Chief Compliance Officer Sabrina Perel spoke on the record during the conference call. If invited, we would have tried to ask a couple of questions. For example, if the league has full, complete, and unilateral control over the gambling policy as it relates to players, why are players allowed to bet on any sports at all when not at work -- especially since non-players are prohibited from betting on any sports at any time?
A clear, bright-line, never-bet-on-sports rule would go a long way toward making sure there is no confusion about the rules. And since the NFL has full control over the gambling policy for players, why are players allowed to bet on sports when no other league or team employees are permitted to do so?
Based on the latest revised “6 KEY Rules” document distributed to reporters on Tuesday, we would have had another question. Why does the league tell players not to bet at work without also pointing out that, if they live or work in a state where gambling is not legal, they should never bet at all?
Currently, gambling is not legal in California, Texas, and Florida. Many NFL players live and/or work in those states. Why aren’t those players being told that, while in those states, they can never bet on any sports in any way?
We’re not trying to make life harder for the people in the league office who are dealing with these issues. We’re just trying to make everything better for the league, the players, the teams, the media, the fans.
The education has been lacking. The rules are inconsistent and unclear. And given that non-players can never wager on any sports while players can bet on non-NFL games and events while away from work, it’s hard not to think that Chris Simms is onto something with his theory that the sports books want the NFL to let players bet -- and lose -- their massive amounts of disposable income on sports other than NFL football.
Regardless, the NFL has a well-earned reputation for being reactive, not proactive. The NFL needs to be far more proactive when it comes to gambling. Otherwise, a major scandal that will undermine the integrity of the game and the interests of its various stakeholders (media outlets covering the league included) is inevitable.