With the Raiders eventually taking their team to Las Vegas, dropping more than 60 players into the gambling capital of the world, should there be concerns about players falling victim to the Vegas lifestyle? Saints quarterback Drew Brees believes that the situation can be managed, because it’s not all that different from one of the other cities where the NFL has been for decades.
“Here’s the thing, you might make the same argument for New Orleans,” Brees said on Friday’s PFT Live regarding the potential problems that can arise from players living and working in Las Vegas. “This is a destination city, it relies on tourism, we’ve got casinos here, we’ve got plenty of nightlife, we’ve got all that stuff. You have to get guys that when it’s time to work, it’s time to work, and when it’s time to have fun you can go have fun but you have a level of responsibility and professionalism to the way that you conduct yourself.”
The difference between Las Vegas and New Orleans, of course, comes from the presence of sports betting — along with those who make a living betting on games. The league embraces the Raiders move while still shunning the concept of wagering on games.
“It’s kind of a contradiction isn’t it?” Brees said. “I mean that’s always gonna be there. It’s part of the reason fantasy football’s so popular too. Guys can build their own teams and there’s usually money involved with all the leagues guys will be involved in. I think the real issue becomes like if somehow players are getting wrapped up into this. That becomes the issue then obviously the consequences are pretty severe when it comes to something like that.”
The challenge for the league will be to prevent the consequences from ever happening, which could be easier said than done. The NBA endured the Tim Donaghy scandal without a team in Las Vegas. Once players, coaches, scouts, and other employees are constantly present in the place where sports betting is prevalent, the NFL’s worst-case scenario becomes instantly more plausible.