The NFL Was Built By Gamblers But NFL Employees Better Not Bet

Bernie Kosar takes the fall for placing a legal sports bet.

The founders of the National Football League included bookies, such as Tim Mara of the New York Giants. A guy who bought a team with the winnings of the day at a racetrack, Pittsburgh’s Art Rooney and Big Bill Dwyer who was a prohibition era bootlegger and owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers and there were other shady characters  around as well. Today the league embraces legalized sports gambling. The Arizona Cardinals franchise has a sportsbook by the stadium. The Chicago Cardinals owner Charles Bidwill was an associate of the Chicago mob boss Al Capone in the 1930s. Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam has a questionable business past. In 2014 Haslam’s company paid $92 million in a penalty for cheating Pilot Flying J customers out of promised rebates and discounts. He served no jail time. The league rolled out the red carpet after the Supreme Court legalized sports gambling in 2018 for bettors. Haslam’s Browns received approval from Ohio to operate a mobile and a retail sportsbooks. But that suddenly became an NFL problem because Browns radio announcer Bernie Kosar made a legalized sports bet on January 1st. Kosar said he placed a $19,000 bet on the Browns to beat the Pittsburgh Steelers. He tweeted that the wager was the first legal bet in Ohio. That was the end of his employment. He broke some NFL gambling rule and Browns ownership ditched him.

“Earlier this week we notified Bernie that per league policy, we were required to remove him from our pregame radio coverage for the season finale after he violated the NFL gambling policy by placing a bet on an NFL game. We understand what Bernie means to this community and our history but as team contracted personnel hired to provide content on our media platforms, his bet was a violation of NFL rules and we must adhere to all NFL policy” according to a Browns statement. The policy embraces gambling when it suits the owners.

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