The NFL is slowly but surely embracing legalized sports betting, but one of its most prominent voices isn’t too excited about the league getting cozy with the vice. NBC’s Tony Dungy discussed the leagues relationship to sports betting on an open media call this week.
The NFL has now created relationships with seven sportsbook operators, including FanDuel, DraftKings, Fox Bet, BetMGM, Caesars Entertainment, PointsBet, and WynnBet.
“I don’t know why the NFL changed its stance. My objection is just personal. I don’t think we should encourage people who are watching the NFL to gamble. Especially young people,” Dungy said.
The seven new business partnerships will be a boon for the league as it recovers from the pandemic losses of 2020. Despite playing a full schedule of games, attendance restrictions hamstrung the league throughout the country last season.
“I’ve got boys,” Dungy continued. “I want them to enjoy the game for what it is … It’s a great game. And I know people gamble. I know it’s legal. I just don’t want to see the NFL promoting it. That’s just my personal opinion. I know a lot of people don’t agree with that.”
Dungy’s NBC teammate, Mike Tirico, agreed that the league and media partners need to be careful around the newly-accepted vice.
“The fact that it’s now legalized may legitimize the process a little bit,” Tirico said. “But I do think it can have an influence on younger fans. We need to be wise to that in general.”
Dungy was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach in 2016 and has worked on NBC’s Football Night In America since 2009. The wildly popular pregame show has positioned Dungy as a conscious of sorts for the league. Although, that consciousness isn’t enough to stop the tidal wave of sports betting money coming the NFL’s way.
Robert Griffin III Book To Expose Washington Football Team
I want you to take this journey with me, as I walk you through one of the most dysfunctional franchises in all of sports.”
Robert Griffin III has a new book coming, and the topic is one that has been in the news as of late.
Griffin announced Surviving Washington on Twitter. The book is focused on the issues he had with the Washington NFL team at the beginning of his pro career. It’s set for an August 2022 release.
“Now, every experience that I’ve ever had has made me a better husband, a better father, and a better player. But I want you to take this journey with me, as I walk you through one of the most dysfunctional franchises in all of sports,” Griffin said in a video announcing the book. “I’m going to tell you the truth about what happened in that playoff game in 2012 against Seattle. I’m going to detail the medical mismanagement that I received during my time in Washington. I will open your eyes to the sexual harassment that permeated the walls of that building, and give you a deep dive into a power struggle between one of the most powerful coaches in all of sports and an owner that many of you want gone. They say, ‘The truth will set you free,’ so here it is, unfiltered. Pre-order now.”
Robert Griffin III said that signing with ESPN didn’t mean his playing days were over. He ever said that he would consider a return to Washington if that is what kept him in the NFL. That is obviously not likely to be happening anymore after openly blasting the owner. It could also rub NFL Comissioner Roger Goodell and other team owners the wrong way as they try to make the investigation into Washington’s corporate culture go away.
If Robert Griffin III is ending his playing career with the release of this book, it isn’t exactly bad news for ESPN. The former QB won rave reviews as a college football game analyst this season. He has also done well with studio coverage of the NFL. Surely the network would find a way to use him more.
FOX Thanksgiving MLS Game Sets Viewership Record For League
“It turned out to be the most-watched MLS match on English-language TV since 2004, and the most-watched MLS match ever on FOX.”
It was a record viewership day for Major League Soccer and FOX on Thanksgiving Day. The network saw nearly 2 million viewers tune in to an MLS Cup Playoff match following the Chicago Bears victory over the Lions in Detroit’s traditional holiday NFL game.
Thanksgiving Day is usually the NFL’s day, outside of Super Bowl Sunday, to shine on America’s televisions. MLB has the 4th of July, the NBA over the last decade and a half has claimed its stake on Christmas Day, and one could argue that New Year’s Day is one of the NHL’s biggest TV days with the Winter Classic. But typically NFL games are always associated with Thanksgiving Day.
MLS continues to grow its viewership, especially as the league expands into new media markets. In recent seasons you’ve seen expansion teams pop up in Minneapolis, Miami, Nashville and Austin, with Charlotte set to become the league’s newest franchise home in 2022. The league around this time of year is finishing its postseason and crowning a champion, and this year, MLS decided to have an MLS Cup Playoff game played on Thanksgiving Day in a tight window between the end the start of the NFL’s two marquee annual holiday matchups.
The Western Conference first round match between the Colorado Rapids and the Portland Timbers on Thanksgiving turned out to be a success for MLS in terms of viewership. FOX Sports, which is the primary English-language broadcast rights holder for MLS, benefitted greatly from having the Lions game this year. The network was able to seamlessly transition from its NFL post-game show into a quick pre-match show for MLS, allowing the table to be set before kick-off.
According to FOX, the early afternoon game in Portland, mid-afternoon on the east coast, drew a record 1.85 million viewers. It turned out to be the most-watched MLS match on English-language TV since 2004, and the most-watched MLS match ever on FOX.
That number outdrew the Copa America final that aired on FS1 over the summer, which saw international soccer star Lionel Messi claim his first major tournament title with Argentina. An audience of 1.836 million tuned in for the battle between Argentina and Brazil.
While a tad below 2 million viewers didn’t make the contest the most-viewed sporting event on Thanksgiving this year, it appears MLS seems to have discovered something that could only get better in future years if the league wants to make futbol part of the football-dominated holiday media landscape.
Bob Iger Reportedly Wants To Buy Phoenix Suns
“Forbes currently values the Suns at $1.8 billion.”
Should the NBA’s Phoenix Suns come up for sale, it appears there’s at least one person potentially interested in buying them. That is former Disney CEO Bob Iger.
The team’s current majority owner, Robert Sarver, is being investigated by the league based on a detailed ESPN report that alleges Sarver created a toxic working environment within the franchise. The report cites incidents where Sarver exhibited racist or misogynistic behavior.
The league investigation is being spearheaded by NBA commissioner Adam Silver. Like former Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, who was eventually banned for life from the league after video showing him using racist language surfaced, Sarver could be forced to sell his ownership stake.
Forbes currently values the Suns at $1.8 billion.
Media reports say what makes Iger an appealing candidate is his connection to the commissioner and the commissioner’s office while with Disney, which owns ESPN and ABC. Both television brands are NBA broadcast rights holders.
The franchise’s current co-owners can turn down any potential buyer, and the league does have a formal sale process. So, it’s likely the team would sell for north of $2 billion if it hit the open market. That would likely require Iger to bring in ownership partners to make the sale happen.
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