My Two Words for the NFL
I have two words to say to the National Football League.
Before expressing these two carefully-crafted words, first I’d like to take some time and explain a few things.
You consistently treat me like a delinquent. You insult me and many of my closest friends and colleagues. You ignore the immense contributions we make to the extraordinary popularity of your product. In short, you treat us like shit.
Don’t deny it. It’s true.
I’m talking about your attitude, your policies, your provocations, and your repeated attacks on us — and everything we do.
I’m talking about the National Football League and the nefarious things this immensely powerful institution does to insult and injure the millions of respectable sports gamblers and casual bettors who have made professional football into what it’s become — the most popular sport in America and the biggest money-making sports enterprise in the history of the world.
Are NFL executives really naive enough to believe tens of millions of “sports fans” are tuning into its games each and every week just to see which team wins?
Sure, the most attractive games with two popular teams with winning records playing in primetime usually attract the biggest viewing audiences. But what about the countless other games on the NFL schedule spread out over the course of the regular season — including dozens of meaningless contests between losing teams, bad franchises, and lopsided blowouts when relatively few fans really care who wins or what happens?
Who’s watching those games?
I’ll give you a hint.
Take the Monday Night Football game between the Tennessee Titans and New York Jets played back on December 17, 2012. That night, two dismal teams played a completely meaningless late season game with absolutely no playoff implications whatsoever.
How did the national television ratings do?
Well, they were just about as high that week as any other. So was the Philadelphia-Carolina game three weeks earlier — another ghastly contest between two last-place teams with no playoff prospects.
Fact is, all NFL games are watchable for two reasons. First, millions of people are betting money on the games. Second, Fantasy Football has become immensely popular. A convincing case can also be made that these two activities are one and the same, since most Fantasy Football leagues reward winners with cash prizes. So, it’s all essentially related to gambling.
Fact: Gambling is the jet fuel that makes the NFL fly.
Football games aren’t just watchable to those that gamble; they’re also interesting from start to finish — no matter what the score. Don’t think for a minute that a 38-0 blowout isn’t riveting theater in the closing minutes, especially when the game total is 40 points, and one more “meaningless ” field goal might swing billions of gambling dollars. Sure, everyone already knows which team’s going to win. But for the hundreds of thousands of gamblers throughout the United States (and scattered over the world) who now wager on pro football, and particularly those who bet totals (the over/under on the game), second-half lines, or a multitude of other player and team propositions, the game remains every bit as interesting as a Super Bowl going into overtime. And that means no matter who’s playing, or what the score is, gamblers are tuning into these lousy games, watching the bombardment of mindless television commercials, and indirectly forking over billions in profit to team owners, players, and the league through revenue sharing.
To prove this point, consider the following scenario. Let’s say two NFL games are being shown on television. The first is a much-anticipated big game between two first-place teams. The second is a terrible match between two last-place teams. Which game gets the higher ratings? Easy answer.
But let’s add the caveat that you’ve got $200 riding on the outcome of the bad game between the two last-place teams. Now, which game do you prefer to watch?
Multiply that obvious answer by millions of sports bettors and it’s apparent what drives a lot of interest and viewership.
In short, we gamblers are responsible for what the NFL has become — America’s real pastime.
One would think intense dedication deserves some gratitude.
Instead, the NFL goes out of its way to offend us with its senseless policies and actions. Here’s a short list of things the NFL has done (and continues to do) which should outrage all who gamble on its games and support its product:
- A few years ago, the NFL demanded that all Nevada casinos cease using the words “Super Bowl” in any form. So now, you won’t see “Super Bowl” listed inside any sportsbook or listed on the betting sheets. Facing the threat of legal action, casinos have even been forced to alter the name of their biggest VIP events and massively-popular viewing parties. Instead, casinos have resorted to calling it “The Big Game.” Seriously. READ MORE HERE
- The NFL has repeatedly vetoed requests by the City of Las Vegas and Convention and Tourism Bureau to buy television commercial time during the Super Bowl game. The NFL cites “the integrity of the game” and Las Vegas being “synonymous to the public with sports gambling” as the reason for its opposition to Las Vegas advertising. READ MORE HERE
- The NFL forbids its partner networks from mentioning or discussing pointspreads, totals, or anything whatsoever related to gambling. Some announcers cleverly get around this (sportscaster Al Michaels is well-known for making subtle comments). But you’ll never see or hear about any of the major networks posting the line on a game. This is a far cry from the good old days when the pioneering ex-Commissioner Pete Rozell understood his fan base all too well, and even went so far as to endorse “Jimmy the Greek” Snyder’s picking games against the spread on CBS during the “NFL Today” pre-game show. Hard to believe it, but we’ve gone backwards on this issue since the 1970’s.
- The NFL announced its intent to fight against legalized sports gambling in Atlantic City. It’s even filed a lawsuit to stop New Jersey from becoming only the second U.S. state (other than Nevada) to allow legal betting on games at its casinos. Despite the fact that 65 percent of New Jersey’s voters approved the measure and the desperate economic situation along the once-famed Boardwalk, the NFL couldn’t care less about going along with the democratic process, potentially saving jobs, and helping a region in serious economic trouble. READ MORE HERE
- Recently, there’s been some local discussion in Las Vegas about a big sports stadium being constructed near The Strip. Proponents hope that if a 60,000-seat stadium somehow gets built, then Las Vegas might be able to lure a few pre-season NFL games or the Pro Bowl (an utterly unwatchable abomination in its current form that would actually become quite interesting if betting on the game was widespread). But the NFL insists it won’t play games where legalized sports gambling exists. Someone should have informed hypocrites Paul Tagliaue and Roger Goodell about the multitude of legal betting shops which exists around London’s Wembley Stadium, which hosts an NFL regular season game each year. READ MORE HERE
- In the past, the NFL has even gone so far as to publicly oppose public policy issues they have absolutely no business commenting on. One such issue is the legalization of online poker. While the NFL did back away from its expressed opposition to these initiatives in 2011, they’ve still meddled in the lives of gamblers — even when our game has absolutely nothing to do with betting on football.
Which now brings us to the conclusion and two carefully-chosen words I have for the NFL.
Even though you choose to act as though we don’t exist — and even though you owe a great debt of gratitude to sports gamblers like me and my colleagues — and even though you consistently try to injure us with your policies and actions — and even though you’ve never once uttered the two important words that we in the sports gambling community deserve to hear, which is THANK YOU — I shall nonetheless preempt your rudeness.
So, here’s my two-word response for the illusory “thanks” you should be bestowing upon the millions of us who bet on your games.