What are we even doing, NFL? How, on one hand, can you have three “official” betting partners (you floozy!) in Caesars, FanDuel, and DraftKings, allow teams to partner with sportsbooks, take heaven knows how much advertising money from said sportsbooks, and then …
And then tell — as best as I can read — every single employee of the NFL (excluding players) that they are not allowed to bet on the NBA. Or the NHL. Or Russian table tennis.
Of course, I’m talking about the one-year suspension handed down to New York Jets wide receivers coach Miles Austin, who was punished last week — reportedly for placing occasional $50 bets on NBA games.
First of all, isn’t being the wide receiver coach for the Jets in a year that Zach Wilson started nine games at quarterback punishment enough?
And secondly: Wait wait wait, what?
Here’s the thing: While NFL players are allowed to wager on non-NFL games, NFL personnel are banned from wagering on anything. The verbiage: “All NFL Personnel other than Players are further prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating bets on any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA, USTA, MLS), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), international (e.g., World Baseball Classic, World Cup), or Olympic sports competition, tournament or event.”
To be clear: This is not just coaches. This includes everyone. If a team employed you to sell soda on game day in section 323, it would appear you are not allowed to bet, per the NFL’s rules.
News dump alert!
It would also appear the NFL realizes how ridiculous these rules are. According to the ESPN report on the matter, Austin hadn’t been at the Jets facility since last Tuesday and the NFL had been investigating Austin for “a while.” Yet, the news didn’t come out (via the NFL Network) until 5:30 p.m. Friday … of Christmas weekend.
The NFL is suspending Jets receivers coach Miles Austin for violating the league’s gambling policy, per sources.
There’s no indication Austin bet on NFL games as a coach but bet on other sports which violates NFL personnel gambling policy. pic.twitter.com/n3ACgHXLPA
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) December 23, 2022
Now understand: I’ve been in the news biz long enough to be legally called an ink-stained wretch, and this is right up there with the news-dumpiest news dump of all-time. When organizations — and politicians — don’t want to deal with pesky reporters and bad PR, they tend to release news that some might find objectionable late on a Friday afternoon. Former President Donald Trump (making no political judgments here) took the practice to an art form.
Again: This practice happens when it would appear that the media and public are going to look at the news being released and say, basically, “WTF?”
And this Austin case certainly meets the “news dump” criteria. After all, look when I’m writing my angry-old-man-shakes-fist-at-clouds response to it. It’s been days. The news is staler than grandma’s Christmas bread pudding.
But it doesn’t make the NFL’s policy any less stupid.
The other major sports leagues allow their employees to wager on sports other than their own, mostly because those leagues apparently are run by reasonable people. And the NFL’s agreement with the players allows the players to wager on sports other than their own.
But, it would seem that Peggy in the Jacksonville Jaguars steno pool can’t get down a $5 parlay on the Pistons and Red Wings (Peggy is a Detroit homer, bless her soul).
As we hit the closing stretch, final positioning for Detroit Sports Supremacy* has not yet been determined
Detroit Sports Win Percentage (2019-2020)
1. Pistons 20-44 (.313)
2. Tigers 47-114 (.292)
3. Red Wings 16-48-5 (.232)
4. Lions 3-12-1 (.219)
— Prashanth Iyer (@iyer_prashanth) March 8, 2020
Again: The NFL takes gobs of money from the sportsbooks, but it won’t let its employees bet on sports.
Is there even a metaphor that applies here? Let’s try, just for fun. How about … if Budweiser prevented its workers from drinking beer. Honestly, that’s pretty close. I really can’t think of another situation as dopey as this one.
Let’s just nail down the circular logic, m’kay?
A legal product is welcomed by an organization which in turn bans its members from using said legal product.
Obviously, no one is sitting here saying major league athletes should be allowed to wager on their own sport (like the UFC inexplicably allowed up until a few months back) (and yes I’m looking at you, Calvin Ridley). But to ban anyone who gets a paycheck from a major league — in this case, the NFL — from wagering a few bucks on some other sport?
That’s silliness. And it’s a shame Austin got caught up in it. Here’s hoping he wins his appeal.
Photo: Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY