DON’T BET ON IT
For the first time in over 36 years, the National Football League has suspended a player for gambling on sports. The then Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter was suspended by the NFL back in the early 1980’s and later became rather infamous as a lifelong compulsive gambler who got caught betting on professional football, but not on the Colts.
That whole affair was a huge black eye for the NFL as Schlichter got involved in FBI investigations as an undercover witness making a total mess of what was an otherwise promising career from the 4th overall pick in the 1982 NFL Draft. The man lost so much money gambling on sports that he was afraid that his creditors would eventually force him to shave points in an NFL game. Schlichter is currently serving 10 years in US Federal prison for stealing millions of dollars to support his gambling habit.
Now we have a new one, 36 years later. Given the amount of time that has passed since the NFL was forced to suspend a player for gambling, it would seem that the league in general took note of what happened to Schlichter and curtailed its gambling habits.
At least until Arizona Cardinal defensive back Josh Shaw sauntered into Caesars sportsbook in Las Vegas and filled out an application for a betting account a Caesars, listing ‘professional football player’ as his occupation, before placing a wager on a three team parlay that included his team, the Arizona Cardinals.
Now Mr. Shaw graduated from the University of Southern California and has played in the NFL since 2015 for four different teams. Does it seem possible that no one ever told the man that he was not allowed to wager on the NFL while playing for the National Football League?
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office responded quickly suspending Josh Shaw for the remainder of this season and for all of the upcoming 2020 season as well. The League did acknowledge that its own investigation had uncovered no evidence that Shaw had used any inside information in making his wagers, and that no games had been compromised.
Goodell issued a statement saying, “The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to safeguard the integrity of the game and the reputations of all who participate in the league. At the core of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games, or on any element of the game, puts at risk the integrity of the game, damages public confidence in the NFL, and is forbidden under all circumstances. If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet of NFL football”.
The big sportsbooks in Las Vegas and elsewhere have a standing agreement with the NFL to let them know if any NFL personnel are placing wagers on NFL games at any time. It was the folks at Caesars that informed Goodell’s office that Shaw had placed the parley wager, which, after all, he ended up losing.
Since 2007 the Nevada gaming regulations actually require sportsbooks in the state to ‘take reasonable steps’ to avoid accepting or paying off any wagers made by, or on behalf, of a player, official, owner, coach or other participant with the team involved with the wager.
Before releasing the news of Josh Shaw’s suspension, the League issued a league wide memo emphasizing the NFL’s gambling policy and the penalties for violating it. Shaw is in the process of appealing the suspension.
Of course football players wagering on football games has a long and colorful history. Most famously, back in 1963 both Paul Hornung of the Green Bay Packers and Alex Karras of the Detroit were banned from professional football for an entire season because of gambling of football games. However, both were back at it the next season and both ended up in the NFL Hall of Fame.