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The NFL has a gambling problem, as I’ve written in the past. The problem is that people like to bet on sports. And NFL players are people. Thus, as legalized gambling becomes more ubiquitous, players run the risk of getting themselves in trouble. And Carolina Panthers head coach Frank Reich is cognizant of the issue and working with his players.
“It’s a big deal,” Reich said, via the Charlotte Observer. “Obviously, we fully support and agree with everything the league is doing in this area. It’s something to be taken very serious. So, you approach the education process through multiple efforts, a lot of it — we have a great support staff — and then the league sends in people to do training, more formal things.
“But then there’s a lot of informal discussion with our development people. And it’s an ongoing process, right? This is a new issue, players and coaches — we all need to continue how important this is for the integrity of our game and fully support what the league is doing.”
His comments are interesting. Not that he fully supports the policy, that’s what he has to say. Also, most people agree that NFL players should be free to bet on other sports, just as any civilian is legally allowed.
But betting on their own sport is a problem. There’s a good chance that they have information not available to the general public. Even if they don’t, there’s always the specter of impropriety.
It’d be like allowing people in a government position to trade stocks. Oh, wait.
But I digress.
Frank Reich, Carolina Panthers employing staffers to educate team on NFL gambling policy
What’s more interesting is that the team is using support staff to specifically address the issues with players.
As recently as 10 years ago, no team probably employed a “sports psychologist.” Maybe a few, at most. Now, nearly all of them do.
Previously, sports betting was almost universally illegal in the United States. Some players probably partook in the action, but there was no way to know. Now that it’s a regulated industry, people are finding out.
The NFL is too big and too important to have even the faintest whispers of corruption, at least with regard to the on-field play.
Frank Reich has had a long career in the NFL, having been drafted in the mid-80s.
So he knows, as well as anyone, how important integrity is to the league.
Follow Dan Zaksheske on X – formerly known as Twitter: @RealDanZak