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The Jonathan Gannon tampering case could, in theory, spawn an interesting lawsuit

During the annual PFT Live hiatus, most weekdays entail an episode of #PFTPM. It’s a 30- to 60-minute stream-of-consciousness monologue, with a handful of topics and some questions posed via Twitter.

It usually harvests various questions regarding some of my favorite soapbox crusades, including the potential issues arising from gambling and the curious decision of the league to brush the Jonathan Gannon tampering situation under the rug. Thanks to an email a reader sent earlier tonight, these two worlds have collided.

I’m amazed, and disappointed, that I didn’t think of it without a nudge. Failure to do so could cause me to lose my spot as one of the top five NFL conspiracy theorists.

But this one isn’t a conspiracy theory. It’s an aggressive legal theory that could be pursued by just one plaintiff and just one lawyer.

The Cardinals admit they violated the tampering rules by contacting Gannon, then the Eagles’ defensive coordinator, on the day after the NFC Championship. Because the ensuing tampering violation — which the Eagles surely complained about — was resolved with a flip-flop of picks announced literally minutes before the 2023 draft commenced, no one knows much if anything about: (1) what the Cardinals did; and (2) how it might have impacted Gannon’s efforts for the Eagles in Super Bowl LVII.

As we’ve suggested in the past, the tampering by the Cardinals potentially resulted in Gannon spending plenty of time that he should have been devoting to the Philly defense to preparing for his Cardinals interview, which happened one day after the Super Bowl. From putting together presentation materials to outlining his thoughts for the interview to contacting potential staff members, it’s possible Gannon spent plenty of time getting ready for the interview — time that could have been spent shoring up weaknesses in his current employer’s defense. Such as, for example, the struggles when dealing with plays involving motions and shifts.

The Cardinals violated the rules; they’ve acknowledged it. The violation created a distraction. Depending on the total amount of time Gannon spent preparing for the interview, the distraction might have kept him from properly doing his job, which could have undermined the integrity of the Super Bowl.

So what does that mean for bettors who wagered on the Eagles to win or to cover? The Eagles were on track after 30 minutes to do both. The legal argument would spring from the basic reality that Arizona blatantly violated league rules by planting the seed that created the distraction for Gannon — the distraction that kept him from properly preparing the Eagles defense.

It would be a unique and aggressive legal theory, primarily because the industry of widespread legalized gambling is so new. What are the rules, the standards, the obligations?

That would be determined, as the law often is, one case at a time. And with the starting point in this specific case being an admitted violation of the tampering rules by the Cardinals that created an obvious distraction for Gannon, that could be enough for one gambler who bet on the Eagles to win or to cover to hire a lawyer who would file a nationwide class action against the Cardinals (for violating the tampering rule) and the NFL (for creating an environment of lax enforcement that results in widespread tampering violations).

Regardless of how such a case would play out — and the NFL surely would fight it tooth and nail — it could be the only way to get to the bottom of what happened between the Cardinals, the Eagles, and Gannon.

They’ve brushed it all under the rug for a reason. That reason could be that, if the truth were known, the lawsuit would have already been filed.