NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Doubles Down on Sports Betting After Reinstating 6 Players For Gambling

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Doubles Down on Sports Betting After Reinstating 6 Players For Gambling

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell joined ESPN’s “The Pat McAfee Show” on Friday to talk about the impact that sports betting has made on players, officiating and whether it could be affecting the outcome of games.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says league “didn’t support” the legalization of sports betting, believes it must adjust

“I haven’t felt that at all. When you have sports betting that is legalized — it was illegal at the time so we still protected the integrity [of the game] — we didn’t support making it legal,” Goodell replied at the 18:50 mark in the YouTube video below, when asked whether sports betting is negatively impacting the league. 

“The Supreme Court made the decision; we gotta adjust to that. … You have to partner with some of these [sportsbooks] because they actually give us access to the information that can detect something before it really becomes a problem. … We just have to adjust.” 

Pat McAfee brought up former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, who resigned in 2007 after reports surfaced from the FBI that he had placed bets on games that he officiated during his last two seasons. 

Donaghy later admitted to making calls that affected the point spread in his officiated games in the 2003-04, 2004-05, 2005-06, and 2006-07 seasons. He was sentenced to 15 months in federal prison on July 29, 2008. 

McAfee also mentioned the NBA’s permanent ban of Toronto Raptors center Jontay Porter. Porter reportedly placed at least 13 bets on NBA games using an associate’s online betting account. The wagers ranged from $15 to $22,000, totaling $54,094, according to the league. 

Porter waged $54,094 worth of bets from January 2024 to March 2024 while traveling with the Raptors or the team’s G League affiliate. The NBA said the total payout from those bets was $76,059, with net winnings of $21,965.

“If people think there’s an influence in the game, other than the players on that field, we’re in trouble,” Roger Goodell added. 

League partnered with Caesars Entertainment, FanDuel, and DraftKings in April 2021

The NFL has a love-hate relationship with sports betting. It’s mostly the former. The league could have taken a stance against gambling years ago. 

Instead, it decided to partner with Caesars Entertainment, FanDuel, and DraftKings in April 2021. From a business perspective, the NFL’s decision makes sense.

“As the sports betting landscape has continued to evolve in the United States, we have been thoughtful with our strategy and are excited to announce three partners who share the NFL’s vision and goals,” said Renie Anderson, Chief Revenue Officer and Executive Vice President of NFL Partnerships. 

“Working closely with Caesars, DraftKings and FanDuel, we will provide fans new and different ways of interacting and engaging with the sport they love.”

On the downside, the NFL’s partnership with said sportsbooks combined with the legalization of sports betting have only led fans to question the integrity of the game. 

NFL reinstated six players for gambling

On April 18, the NFL reinstated five players who were suspended last year for violating the gambling policy: defensive end Shaka Toney, wide receiver Quintez Cephus, defensive end Rashod Berry, defensive end Demetrius Taylor, and safety C.J. Moore.

Last week, the NFL also reinstated Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. from his year-long suspension for violating the league’s policy on gambling.

The fact that six players last year alone served season-long suspensions for gambling should be enough to raise anyone’s red flag. What happens if it’s a star quarterback next? What if it’s a Super Bowl referee? At some point, Goodell has to be asking himself these questions. 

In the end, the NFL might already be in too deep to save face. A number of fans think the league is fixed with predetermined outcomes. The league promoted Taylor Swift’s interest in the Kansas City Chiefs all season long in 2023. 

Then the Chiefs coincidentally advanced to Super Bowl LVIII and won 25-22 in overtime against the San Francisco 49ers, with Swift in attendance at Allegiant Stadium in Las Vegas. Kansas City is a great team and Patrick Mahomes is already one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history. 

However, several fans are convinced that today’s game focuses too much on storylines and not enough about football. With sports betting tossed into the mix, more fans are starting to call it “RIGGED!”

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