If you have followed my blogs on this site for a while, you know I don't usually go into too many rants about the NFL, but the recent incident surrounding a replacement official's "gambling past" seems to have a lot of people up on arms about the NFL's policy on gambling.
For those that don't follow the NFL or are not aware of the policy, you cannot be involved in any type of gambling activities if you work for or play for any organization in the National Football League. It doesn't matter if your game is slots, poker, or Pai Gao, gambling by NFL players and employees is prohibited.
Some of you are probably wondering why the NFL cares if their players gamble. Their rationale is the same as the NCAA in that they are worried about preserving the integrity of their games. They think that if their players and employees are involved in gambling, they could potentially be influenced to fix games in some way.
While football is a team game, one player can make the difference in a play going wrong or a receiver magically breaking free to score a winning touchdown. As such, the policy is all encompassing and covers all players and employees regardless of status or tenure.
The only time where the NFL seems to back off of this policy is when players participate in charity poker tournaments. These events do not award cash prizes to winners, and do not pose a threat of players being influenced to fix games. Granted, if these events have been held inside of casinos, the NFL has still banned their players from participating.
Even if players were not involved in any fixing of games, the accusation of such fixing would be enough to bring a ton of negative press on the NFL, and that is something that Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to avoid at all cost.
The NFL's policy on gambling is not something that they have put in place to impede on individual player's rights outside of the game, but something that they have put in place to protect the integrity of the game.