The legality of sports betting may soon change via the Supreme Court of the United States, but the existence of betting on NFL games has been a constant since the league’s inception. The outcome of wins and losses — the games themselves and the fortunes of bettors — depends on player performance, obviously. What do the players themselves make of this and to what extent (if any) are they aware of the point spread?
Las Vegas oddsmakers dub teams underdogs or favorites, sometimes by a large margin. Are the players aware? Do they talk about point spreads? Do spreads become bulletin board material or is it completely out of mind? SportsHandle wondered, and so we asked five former NFL players about sports betting and what they recall.
Former NFL-ers Discuss Their Awareness of Sports Betting During Playing Days and What They Recall Hearing
From the days of Jimmy the Greek references on The NFL Today to thinly-veiled references by Brent Musberger, Al Michaels, Sean McDonough recently and other broadcasters, sports betting has increasingly become less taboo in mainstream conversation. Gambling is part of what drives the NFL’s popularity and ratings. How much of the conversation trickles down to the players and what do they think about an expansion of legal sports betting?
Over the course of this week, SportsHandle will publish a series of five interviews with former players in question-and-answer form. They are:
- Kyle Turley: Two-time First-team All-Pro offensive tackle who played from for the Saints, Rams and Chiefs from 1998-2007.
- Chris Cooley: Career-long Redskins tight end from 2004-2012 who made two Pro Bowl teams.
- Blaine Bishop: Four-time Pro Bowl Safety for the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans who spent 12 seasons in the league.
- Mike Pritchard: A 1991 first-round wide receiver (13th overall by Atlanta) who collected 422 catches and 26 touchdowns for the Falcons, Broncos and Seahawks from 1991-1999.
- Hugh Millen: A journeyman quarterback who chartered through seven teams and coaching heaven from 1987 through 1996 (he played for Don Shula, Bill Parcells, Jimmy Johnson and Mike Shanahan).
With the exception of Turley, all of the players have taken on sports radio roles since retiring. Check back tomorrow for the first interview. “Now that you’re asking me all this stuff, it’s coming back to me” Turley said. We hope you will find them interesting and enlightening.