Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Jan 20, 2014 in Blog, Sports Betting | 1 comment

The Player We Should All Be Talking About Instead: NaVorro Bowman


NaVorro Bowman


Lost in all the hype and controversy surrounding Seattle’s victory over San Francisco in the NFC Championship game, and the combustible post-game interview given by Seahawks defensive back Richard Sherman, was the extraordinary self-sacrifice of 49ers linebacker NaVorro Bowman.

I’ve been watching NFL football for more than four decades.  That excruciating play in the fourth quarter at the goal line was one of the most courageous and selfless acts I’ve ever witnessed in the heat of competition.  It bears noting and remembering, especially since it might cost this player his playing career.  According to early reports, that’s how bad the injury was.

For those needing the instant replay, at a critical junction of the game, Seattle’s wide receiver fumbled the ball at the one-yard line.  The ball was plucked in midair by Bowman, who then began an involuntarily fall towards the turf.  At that instant, his leg became twisted underneath another player and as his descent progressed, the knee buckled and snapped.  For a football player, it’s perhaps the very worst kind of injury.  Like a racehorse breaking a leg.

The injury was reminiscent of the Joe Theisman broken leg injury many years ago.  Television kept showing the incident over and over again until you finally had to turn away.  No matter who you rooted for, it was painful to watch.


Unfortunately, injuries are a part of football.  Players get injured all the time.  What qualifies NaVorro’s effort as courageous, however, was that he somehow managed to hold onto the ball, despite what must have been a gruelingly painful experience.  Not many players, if any, could have retained possession of the ball while enduring such pain.

The terrible irony of the incident lies in what happened afterward.  Two things, really.

First, in yet another illustration of the abominable rules in force in the NFL, somehow Bowman’s recovery of the ball wasn’t a fumble.  In a mind-boggling synopsis of absurdity and inconsistency, the play was not only “not subject to review,” the ball was given to Seattle at the one-yard line, even though the 49ers player came away with the ball, at the cost of what might be his NFL career.

By the way, this isn’t the perspective of a San Francisco fan.  Not only was I cheering for the opposing team Seattle, but I also had money on the Seahawks.  But fair is fair, and right is right.  Moreover, it doesn’t matter what happened on the next play, which was an actual fumble.  What matters is this — the NFL continues to have rules in force that remain a constant source of controversy and officiating crews that are atrocious.

The second indignity took place a few minutes later when Bowman was strapped to a cart and was wheeled towards the locker room for treatment.  As he left the field and headed into the tunnel passing Seattle fans, he was showered with popcorn from some idiots who obviously lack a brain.  I can’t even imagine something like this happening.  Had I been there and witnessed that, there would have been a fistfight and probably an arrest (me).

Make no mistake.  Navarro Bowman cost me serious money last week in the Carolina game, where he anchored two defensive stops on the goal line.  He did his very best to cost me money again yesterday, by sacrificing his body for his team in a critical spot.  That said, I sure do respect Bowman and I hope he somehow recovers from his injury.

I won’t be rooting for San Francisco anytime soon.  But I sure will be rooting for Bowman.

Read More

Posted by on Oct 27, 2013 in Blog, Sports Betting | 2 comments

Gambling Makes the NFL’s World Go Around




The National Football League is seriously entertaining the idea of placing a team in London.

Sounds reasonable.  The American sports scene has pretty much reached the saturation point.  I’ve already noted that some “major” sports are in serious decline.  Even the wildly-popular NFL likely faces serious challenges attracting new fans in the years to come.  Fact is, if someone isn’t watching pro football by now, there’s a slim chance they’ll convert and become a fan sometime later.  Moreover, every region of the country already has an NFL team, which means there’s really no such thing as an untapped market within the U.S.

And so — the NFL is wisely considering expansion overseas, with the primary focus on Great Britain.  The appeal and advantages of expansion here are obvious.  A common language and culture.  Considerable wealth.  A rich sporting heritage.  Excellent stadiums.  Huge television money.  In fact, London has hosted at least one NFL regular-season game for years.  But now, there’s serious talk about a franchise actually being placed in Wembley Stadium full time.

What’s most interesting about this prospect is something the NFL doesn’t like to talk about and never publicly acknowledges.  And that’s the NFL’s extensive popularity stemming largely from one thing — gambling.

There’s no doubt that gambling (and its close cousin — fantasy football) have combined to make the NFL into a juggernaut.  Every game is now watchable by anyone who follows the game, due to either a financial interest or a fantasy sports perspective.

But the Brits take betting on sports to new levels.

Consider that at present no NFL team exists in a market where there’s legalized sports betting.  Sure, there’s plenty of underground and offshore betting.  But football fans can’t legally go and place a bet nearby, and then go to the stadium and watch their action unfold.  In London, things are entirely different.

Betting shops are all over the place — hundreds, if not thousands of them spread all across the country.  They’re even across the street from the stadiums.  And, most all of them take bets on NFL games (all of them — including sides and totals).  You’d be shocked by how many Brits bet on American football.  And if you think the 95,000 or so fans who are packing Wembley Stadium today for what appears to be a dreadful mismatch of NFL game between San Francisco and Jacksonville are there merely to casually watch a football game all in “good fun,” then pull your head out of your ass and think again.  Want proof?  Listen to the crowd once the 49ers either manage to cover the 16.5 point spread or the total goes over 40.  You’re likely to hear a huge roar, perhaps the biggest of the game when that happens (Neil Channing, undoubtedly cheering the loudest).

See, that’s the whole point the NFL misses.  That sports and gambling go hand-in-hand.  The English soccer leagues attract innumerable numbers of gamblers to games, all with a vested financial interest in the outcome.  Everyone gets into the act — the sports clubs, the stadiums, the bookmakers, and the fans.  The system works.

So, what might the NFL do as a pre-condition for placing an NFL team in London?  Ban gambling?  Force the English betting shops not to take action on the games?

Fat chance.

If that happens, pro football will never make it in London.  The stadium would be half empty.  If American gambling fuels the NFL’s immense popularity, then in England it’s a virtual pastime.  It will be interesting to see how the NFL — often so hopelessly hypocritical and out of touch with reality — deals with this issue.

Read More