Goodell says fantasy football isn’t about wagering

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Commissioner Roger Goodell’s appearance on CNBC touched on various topics.  One topic in particular is one that the NFL typically tries to tap dance around.

The unprecedented growth of pro football over the last 20 years has resulted in large part from the ascension of fantasy football.  With free agency potentially undermining fan rooting interest in specific teams, the ability to cobble together a team of their own has expanded fan interest far beyond the teams they love and the teams they hate.

For many, fantasy football has become another form of gambling.  While plenty of folks play simply for bragging rights among friends, frenemies, coworkers, and other acquaintances, many make it even more interesting by putting something other than pride at stake.

While addressing the league’s aversion to all forms of gambling, Goodell was asked about fantasy football.

“Fantasy’s a different issue for us,” Goodell said.  “We see families getting together.  It’s not about wagering.  They’re competing against one another.  And it’s a fun forum for our fans to engage in the game.”

Most would say that, for many, it’s indeed about wagering.  And some (like me) would say it’s just a matter of time before we catch wind of an ultra-high-stakes fantasy league involving players, coaches, and/or other NFL team personnel.

There’s also a chance that, at some point, we’ll find out that a guy who blew a key coverage or missed a key tackle in a meaningless late-season game had on his ultra-high-stakes fantasy team the guy who scored the resulting touchdown.

Regardless of whether the worst-case scenario ever plays out for the NFL, fantasy football is played by many for real money.  And that’s wagering, regardless of the fact that no one is betting on any specific team.

96 responses to “Goodell says fantasy football isn’t about wagering

  1. Maybe I’m just ignorant, but I just don’t see players, many of them with no other talents outside of football, potentially blowing their multi million dollar careers over a high stakes fantasy league. Barring somebody putting more money than they have in the bank on fantasy football,there’s more money to be made in endorsements and contracts than any prize fantasy football would provide.

  2. As he brainstorms how to file lawsuits against Fantasy Football sites to get his cut and or making it illegal for the sites to mention team names, player names etc etc…

  3. And Goodall continues to show that he doesn’t know what he’s talking about..or he can’t afford to tell the truth because that would indicate how big gambling really is essential to the growth of the NFL.

    Either way it goes, he’s lying. Which is something he does 80% of the time anyway.

  4. If the NCAA athletes are so mad about video games, jersey sales etc generated off of their likeness, could NFL players sue Yahoo, ESPN, NFL Network, all these play for cash fantasy sites for thesame reason? I could see the pay sites being held accountable one day. On the same note, every time someone clicks on yahoo or ESPN for a “free” game it generates more money for them through advertising. personally I used to love fantasy football. Now i wish it would go away. It has changed the game because fans want more scoring and points now. These soccer moms, cheerleaders and geeks who never played a down at any level want an arena league type game now. Every year, Goodell gets closer to that goal.
    Any lawyers in here want to answer the lawsuit question?

  5. Kind of a reach here. Yeah, I play FF. Yeah, we play for money. But we really don’t play “for” the money. It just makes it a little more interesting. The whole aspect of a possible fix being in on a blown assignment to win a high stakes FF league is extremely unlikely in my opinion. Could it happen, I suppose, but I doubt it. Playing football is a job and if you blow coverages you won’t have a job too long. I’m sure they can make more money play pro football then a high stakes FF league.

  6. It seems like the easy solution would be to state that for NFL players, they can only play in leagues with no stakes and they must draft themselves in any leagues they play in. MJD actually follows the second rule, which makes a lot of sense.

  7. People who gamble will bet on anything. Because people are betting on Fantasy Football the NFL doesn’t have to take responsibility for that. Fantasy Football just makes a lot of games that normally would be unwatchable interesting.

  8. Does anybody actually play in free FF leagues? I know I sure don’t. What a waste of time that would be.

  9. Goodell is right. FF is by and large about having fun and a friendly rivalry/competition. Even among those who put money into the thing, the money simply means more bragging rights.

    Are there gambler FF leagues? Sure. Probably less than 1% of leagues are serious gamble-based leagues.

  10. What I hate the most about Goodell is how he thinks the fans are stupid. Hey Roger, we all know that without gambling the NFLs ratings would be half what they would be. Nice try though

  11. He’s right as far as the NFL concerned. Its all about getting people to watch games they otherwise wouldn’t care the slightest about because you have a fantasy player on one of those teams.

    Translates to higher TV ratings and bigger TV contracts in the long run.

    NFL the League Of Greed

  12. I’ve always had a deep interest in the NFL ever since I was a little-tike, but I would certainly agree that my interest was definitely heightened significantly when I began playing Fantasy Football.

    I have found the arrival of popularity in daily fantasy forums to make this the case even more so. I had over $1,200 in winnings this year on daily-fantasy (albeit I probably only netted $200 or so in actual net winnings when considering the amount of losses as well).

  13. I play FF with friends mainly for bragging rights along with a little bit of money for winning.
    I think that is what most do. Its lots of fun for sure.

  14. The only explanation for the second half of the Cowboys vs Packer game… Dallas OCs Callahan opponent that week had Demarco Murray!

  15. Hah, Raj puts the ‘fantasy’ in fantasy football.

    If everything this guy says is a lie, then the complete opposite would have to be…

  16. It’s about driving consumers to websites to sell marketing. Plain and simple.

    Boys and girls play fantasy football. Grown men bet on sports and like reality football.

  17. This illustrates once again the extent of this senator’s son’s clueless nature of how “ordinary” people are.

  18. FF gambling can’t be too widespread because although I’ve heard people mention their “money league” online, I’ve never met a real live person who plays for money. I wish I have because I’d definitely do it.

  19. There already is “an ultra-high-stakes fantasy league involving players, coaches, and/or other NFL team personnel.” It’s called The NFL.

  20. If you play FF with the intent on winning money, you’re an idiot because you have far less control than say blackjack or poker. FF is about competition, bragging rights and talking trash. It’s about being able to stomach watching the Browns/Jags game because you have Josh Gordon. You don’t play to “wager” you play to win.

  21. Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight!. FF, gambling, and gambling on FF are the only things keeping that horrible brand of football the NFL is pushing on us watchable.

  22. A high stakes fantasy football league involving NFL players who would blow an assignment to win the league? Why, that’s about as likely as an NFL player getting arrested for rubbing one out in a Target parking lot.

    Oh, wait…

  23. I play FF and admit that I follow certain teams and players I normally would not pay much attention to otherwise. No, I don’t play for money as I’m new to fantasy, but it’s fun. Our league used the NFLdotcom site. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if the NFL started doing a Google type of invasion of privacy by selling info advertisers in the near future. With the explosion of the number of people playing fantasy, the NFL is sitting on a goldmine in advertising dollars.

  24. Fantasy football is almost always played for money but real stakes are bragging rights. Lost in my finals this year and get texts from the champion everyday about it. Draft day for us is another national holiday

  25. That’s right Roger. Fantasy football is just like the Vegas point spreads. Neither is associated with wagering. That also hold true for the weekly injury report. How could any if this be associated with WAGERING? Impossible.

  26. Look at it this way……….It would take me 5 seasons of winning Fantasy Football to afford season tickets to the games……..lol, so, that means that Fantasy Football is gambling while tickets costs are stealing……..either way it’s a felony.

  27. I can think of nothing worse than participating in a FREE fantasy football league. What is the point then? You don’t have to have a huge buy in to make it fun either. Definately makes a difference to have something more than pride and bragging rights up for grabs.

  28. GODdell and fantasy football are ruining the game and is there anything watching these clowns on TV talk about football like they know anything because they are in 500 fantasy leagues

  29. goodell is a buffoon. without gambling there is no football. who’s going to watch the jags if they aren’t gambling on it.

  30. I’m in the vast minority that fantasy anything is incredibly stupid (I will wait here while someone explains the difference between fantasy sports and playing Dungeons and Dragons), but it is absolutely wagering. You just wager on individual performances instead of the outcome of the game.

  31. The $300 check I just got in the mail today says otherwise….(so does the probably $2000 or so I’ve donated to the winners of my league over the last 10 years)

  32. Fantasy took it out of the bookie’s hands because there are so many factions involved that Vegas can’t control it like they could when bets were made on entire teams.
    So a small gang of friends set up their own league without the influence or input from gangsters.
    I’m sure there are those that abuse it, but in general, sounds pretty innocent and something people do for fun…not necessarily profit.

  33. I guess he’s probably right….I’m too lazy to look it up without Westlaw access, but I seem to recall a circuit court interpreting monetized fantasy sports as a “tournament of skill”.

  34. Goodell is right, fantasy football is about pathetic, past their prime people who try to vicariously through the imaginary team they create.

    #fantasyfootballisweak

  35. You can’t fix a fantasy league.
    One guy purposedly missing a play does not change what all your other guys do or what the guys do on the team you’re playing against.
    The only way would be to offer Peyt!on or Brees more money than they are already making.
    Now THAT would be a high-stakes league!

  36. Hypocrisy, of course. Bottom line: the NFL needs fantasy football AND each player and franchise signs on to a prohibition on gambling. So what’s a commish to do? Lie! And let’s leave out regular Fantasy Football, which the federal government described in the Unlawful Internet Gaming Enforcement Act (supporting briefs supplied by every single major sports league) as legal; The unintended consequence of that Act also made legal (for the time being) BIG money single day “Fantasy Sports” games– about as close to Vegas gambling as you can get. By the way, the NFL cited their prohibition of gambling when issuing me ( and an unnamed NFL franchise) a cease and desist for a perfectly legal, free watch-and-win game that simply relied on outcomes of random plays to award prizes to fans who had those outcomes on a gamecard– a TD gets you a hamburger kind of thing. It’s The kind of game every other pro league employs for marketing purposes. That was a no-go. But now a player can own himself or a friend in a $25K league, and that’s OK? Seems crazy. Hence the hypocrisy.

  37. I argue that its Satelitte Dish TV… aka the NFL Package on Dish.

    Its making more people cozy at home and not at the game dealing with drunk morons or spending $500 a game.

  38. Fantasy Football IS gambling. I’ve played FF for over 15 years and all but two leagues were for money.

    How is that not gambling?

    Allowing the NFL players to participate in FF is a recipe for disaster. Allowing NFL referees to play FF is even worse.

  39. Goodell doesn’t care about right and wrong. In Goodell’s book, right is what makes him more money and wrong is what makes him less money.

    Goodell doesn’t care about football. He cares about lining his pockets.

  40. Fantasy football creates interest not only for diehard football fans but for people that might not have watched many games before but now do. And that’s a problem for the league Goodell?

  41. The problem with fantasy football, is that it will probably start creating generations of fans of players, and not fans of teams. If there is no fan team loyalty, then why by any NFL merchandise at all? Why go to any of the games?

    How many people do you know who play fantasy football, and when there favorite team plays against players on his or her fantasy roster, they root for the players on their fantasy roster, and still want their favorite team to win the game?

    Now, imagine generations of fans growing playing fantasy football, who don’t have that favorite team loyalty.

  42. I stopped playing fantasy football for money years ago, it makes the sport so much more enjoyable. Although I would have won some money over the years, playing for fun is the only way to play.

  43. Naturally there is some gambling involved but for me its about keeping in touch with friends at our live draft and giving some meaning to games I otherwise wouldn’t watch due to one of my players playing . But yeah fantasy football has expanded the NFL’s audience and Goodell knows it .

  44. Call me weird, but I just enjoy watching football for the sake of watching football.

    Fantasy players are fine, and they’re doing something more legit in their league than with the sports books, but so help me if I have to hear about their football Pokemon, especially when there’s a REAL game on.

  45. Sometimes I honestly think Pats’ BB plays FF for big bucks.
    It’s seems like every week a different Pats player scores big FF pts or zero points depending if he plays. I never draft Pats players … Unpredictable.

  46. this just shows how little Rodger knows about the sport he holds the highest position in.

    what a joke.

    has this guy ever played a meaningful down of football in his life???
    i really would like some detective work done on this matter..

  47. I play Fantasy football-most fans do. But I also enjoy watching the games and tailgating more. The game is more important. The problem is we judge players by fantasy points only which is ridiculous. We think that way-fantasy first reality second. IT IS A TEAM GAME BOTH ON THE FIELD AND IN THE STAT ROOM. A player doesn’t reach 100 yards and a td because perhaps his line did a poor job blocking or a qb didn’t throw for 400 yards because he was sacked 7 times. Yes it may have increased the NFL audience but an audience of what? An earlier blogger was right-an audience of no team loyalty that critiques everything on the bloggersphere without offering anything constructive. It becomes quite boring.

  48. Goodell is obviously full of BS on this. Of course gambling is a big part of fantasy football. Disappointed in Florio… Good sportswriter, but the thought that a pro football player who makes 5 figures or 6 figures per game is going to intentionally blow a coverage or miss a tackle so he can make money from his fantasy team is pretty STUPID. Is there really a “high stakes” fantasy league that pays enough for a player to risk his career??? Probably not. Overall, fantasy football (money leagues and free leagues) is good for the NFL because it has expanded the popularity of the league.

  49. No player would let someone score on purpose to boost their fantasy point, they would lose their career and one touchdown isn’t going to win the fantasy bet for you. They don’t have their phone on the sideline so they wouldn’t know how much they needed to win anyways plus aren’t people associated with the nfl banned from gambling.

  50. Yeah the fantasy football commercial that says I will become rich and hang out with lingerie models makes me think gambling could play a major role .

  51. We play for money. $50 a head. Winner takes something like $350. And that $350 pales in comparison to the joys of rubbing it in everyone’s faces for 12 months.

    You can’t put a price on bragging rights.

  52. Won my first championship in a league I’ve been in 14 years this year. Money hasn’t arrived yet and I haven’t thought about it hardly at all. I don’t care when it comes. I’m glad I finally got one from those guys. It’s not about the money.

    15-1 Peyton/Marshawn/DeSean/Gordon/Jimmy G/Carolina D

  53. He should cherish fantasy football. The ratings due to increased watching is the best thing for the NFL. And how else do you get someone to watch Jacksonville vs. Houston twice?

  54. At the stadium, before the game, the announcer said ” Welcome to the show ” ( not the game ). As for gambling, Absolutely YES . Just more evidence that the NFL is becoming the new Pro Wrestling. It was fun while it lasted, but now they have killed the golden goose….

  55. I have a dynasty team and I finally won this year. the money I won, I would gladly pay to win the championship. ITS NOT ABOUT THE MONEY. its kicking your buddies ass. the money is just extra.

  56. Good work, Mr. Florio! I totally agree that one of these days the NFL will become rigged perhaps by players betting against themselves or on their opponents. either that or Goodell will use FF as a pretext when the truth comes out that the NFL really really IS RIGGED (by officials who let some QBs get away with murder and other QBS have to follow the rules…I’m looking at you, Mr. Brady!…or by officials who let some team’s DBs get away with pass interference…Richard Sherman anyone?…and other DBs always getting caught even when they are not guilty…or by Vegas gambling outfits that must cover the spreads no matter what, and maybe the refs are in on it…).

  57. I just thought of something….so that’s why Tannehill blew against the Jets week 17 when he was supposed to be getting the Fins into the playoffs…he had the Jets D on his fantasy team! Either that or his silly wife Lauren did, and she pointed that AK-47 she left in the rental car at him and would “shoot” him if he won the game instead of letting the Jets win…I mean is there any other explanation for the Dolphins totally blowing a shot at the playoffs to a crappy team than that (plus their crappy offensive line…)?

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