If you’ve read this site over the years, you’ve noticed that I don’t think too much about the NFL’s policies when it comes to gambling. In fact, just two months ago I wrote a bit about how ridiculous the league’s policy towards it’s players is in its current form. All of which makes yesterday’s social media ad that I saw all the more laughable and hypocritical.
The ad in question (click accompanying image for full size) features Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown inviting you to play in “his” $1,000,000 one-week FanDuel league for just $5. So, in other words, just a small investment offers a chance at big earnings. Hmm, where have I heard that sort of logic before? Oh yeah, from a casino and various gambling outfits. And guess what? Your chances of hitting that DraftKings.com $2M payout (or any decent payout for that matter) is minuscule according to Bloomberg News due to the fact that legal gamblers and gambling syndicates are essentially gaming the system with thousands of daily bets and lineup iterations each week based on sophisticated modeling systems.
Now, before I go any farther, no I don’t think companies such as FanDuel should be illegal — for that matter, I take a more libertarian view of things and don’t think any regulated gambling should be illegal. But let’s not pretend this isn’t gambling at its core. The NFL and organizations will undoubtedly tell you that leagues such as Antonio Brown’s constitute a skill, not luck. To that I say, you’re partially right. Knowing how to maximize the value of a player and your lineup is certainly skill set, but there’s still plenty of luck involved as well. Does a player get injured in a game? Is a bad call made by an official? Does a player trip on a bad piece of turf? In that regard, it’s much like poker. In poker you can go in with the best hand and lead all the way until the end, only to be beaten by the turn of a card that had almost no chance of showing up at that exact time. Yet if Antonio Brown wanted to host a poker tournament, he couldn’t. How do I know this? Because the NFL has specifically said so as recently as this very offseason.
So what’s the logical conclusion here? It’s that the NFL is hypocritical and more about public relations than “protecting” the interest of its viewers. If the league thought they could get away with advertising casinos themselves and not draw the ire of regulations, you can bet they’d do it in a heartbeat. If that much were true they’d also allow players to appear at casinos and promote online poker sites the way Peyton Manning currently pitches Gatorade. Instead the NFL currently punishes players for these activities since they can’t get a piece of the pie themselves.
I know the NFL being hypocritical isn’t a shock to anyone at this point, but it’s just one more thing the league needs to clean up in the long run. If Tony Romo wants to appear at a fantasy football convention at a Las Vegas warehouse, then let him. He’s not suddenly going to be indebted to mob bosses or cause six-year old kids to start up a gambling habit. Frankly the NFL would be better off policing its own staff and policies than forcing its players to follow archaic rules meant to prevent them from earning endorsements.