It’s been nearly two months since an NFL employee reported on the NFL website that the NFL will be fining those NFL players who appeared at an arm-wrestling event in Las Vegas. To date, the NFL has imposed no fines.
The report of the league’s intent to fine the players appeared on April 10. As of May 15, a league spokesman told PFT the matter was “still under review.” On Thursday, Steelers linebacker Arthur Moats (one of the participants in the event) said that he has heard nothing from the NFL about the arm-wrestling event.
“I understand that it’s a business,” Moats said, via Chris Bradford of the Beaver County (Pa.) Times. “They have to do their due diligence when it comes to the brand, but I feel like until we hear from Roger Goodell about it, it’s just, you know, anyone can say they’re going to fine him for that. But until we hear from them, I don’t take it that serious.”
He shouldn’t take it seriously. The NFL, which has become consumed by P.R. concerns in recent years, realizes that it would look foolish and unfair to punish players for appearing at a non-gambling event in a casino when the NFL has just agreed to allow one of its franchises to move into the capital of casinos, with a stadium bought and paid for in large part by casino money and with inevitable naming-rights and other sponsorship deals tied to casinos.
The NFL can continue to huff and puff all it wants about gambling, but when faced with the prospect of blowing the house down the league understands that it is quietly but clumsily climbing into bed with The House. The safest bet in this case would be to say the NFL will continue to drag its feet on the issue until everyone has forgotten all about it, because it’s impossible to reconcile taking any action against the players with the actions the league has taken and will continue to take in Las Vegas.