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Why allow players to gamble on non-NFL sports?

Mike Florio and Chris Simms explain why there’s a critical difference between the league pointing to efforts to educate players and coaches on the gambling policy and those individuals actually understanding it.

One of the most curious aspects of the NFL’s gambling policy comes from the ability of players to bet on sports other than NFL games and events. The league prohibits all non-players from doing so. But the league allows all players to do so, where legally permitted.

It makes no sense, especially when considering the origins of the gambling policy.

The NFL unilaterally crafted the gambling policy, as part of the Commissioner’s authority to protect the integrity of the game. The NFL Players Association has conceded that point. There is no bargaining to be had; the Commissioner makes the rules.

So why did the Commissioner agree to let players wager on sports other than NFL football? With no ability to resist the will and discretion of the Commissioner, why wouldn’t he make it a basic requirement, in exchange for the privilege of playing in the NFL, to surrender the right to wager on any sporting event?

No one would forfeit a career as an NFL player so that he could bet on sports. No one. And if anyone ever did, the NFL would instantly fill that player’s spot with someone else.

Players on teams in states that have yet to legalize sports wagering (Texas, California, Florida) can’t bet on any sporting events. Why let the players in the states where it’s legal do it?

As one veteran agent pointed out on Monday, when has the NFL ever exercised unilateral discretion in a way that gave the players greater rights than the league was required to give them? Why start with such an important policy, when it comes to the integrity of the game?

Chris Simms had an interesting idea during Tuesday’s PFT Live, one that could qualify him for one of the other four spots in Howie Roseman’s Top Five NFL Conspiracy Theorists List.

Simms wonders whether the sports books want young men with plenty of disposable dollars and a possible itch for the dopamine rush that comes from winning a bet to be able to do so.

It’s not a crazy thought. “Hey, NFL, we give you a ton of money to be one of your various official sports book partners. Help us win some of it back, why don’t you?”

Regardless, a lot of the current confusion would disappear if the rule was simple and clear. This is as clear as it can be: no sports betting by any NFL or team employees, player or non-player.

The union couldn’t do anything about it. The players wouldn’t do anything about it. And there would be no confusing at all regarding the line between permissible and impermissible sports betting.