NFL wisely moved East-West Shrine Bowl out of Las Vegas
A minor headline (even in the slow times) emerged recently when it was announced that the East-West Shrine Bowl had moved to The Star in Frisco, Texas. It felt like nothing more than the latest effort by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones to have more everything at his team’s sprawling practice facility.
But there’s a hidden benefit to the move, one that was pointed out to PFT this week, given all the recent talk about players and gambling.
For two years, the East-West Shrine Bowl was played in Las Vegas. It happened after the NFL “partnered with” (basically, took over) the game. It was shifted to Las Vegas as part of Pro Bowl week.
At a time when the NFL needs all players to understand the limits and contours of the gambling policy, putting the game in Las Vegas was hardly the ideal way to introduce them to pro football.
Per the source, the meeting rooms were “literally steps” from table gaming, and they stayed at the Luxor Hotel & Casino.
It simply adds to the confusion that players necessarily experience when trying to figure out what is and isn’t allowed, and when trying to understand what is and isn’t proper. The league makes many millions from sports books. Multiple owners of teams have ownership interests in those same sports books. But the players have different rules -- rules that are poorly communicated through a haze of tone-deaf conflicts of interest and rank hypocrisy.
It’s almost as if the league doesn’t want to be as blunt as it needs to be with the players about the situation, for fear of making the do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do nature of the situation even more obvious.
Even if the move to Frisco had nothing to do with getting incoming players away from a place where gambling is inherently pervasive and the message is hopelessly mixed, it was a useful incidental benefit. At every level, the league needs to get smarter about gambling -- from educating players to creatively and proactively anticipating potential problems, and solving them.
One major scandal could become a massive threat to the league. While not necessarily existential, the aftermath could dramatically alter the manner in which the NFL controls its own business. And it could potentially put one or more people behind bars.