In 2015, the NFL shut down an effort by Tony Romo to host a fantasy football convention in a Las Vegas facility at which no gambling happens. Three years after the Supreme Court opened the floodgates for nationwide legalized sports betting, things have changed. Dramatically.
Gisele Bundchen, the wife of Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady, has joined DraftKings as a special adviser to the board of directors, via David Purdum of ESPN.com. DraftKings operates sports books throughout the country, after emerging in the years before that as one of the leading daily fantasy providers.
It’s not clear what Bundchen’s special advice to a sports gambling company will be. It is clear that the NFL quickly has gone from treating gambling like a poisonous arachnid to letting a bucket of tarantulas crawl all over The Shield.
Indeed, the news comes less than a week after the NFL entered into an unprecedented “tri-exclusive” (i.e., not really exclusive) sports book partnership with DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesar’s. Now that DraftKings is an official NFL partner, chances are that the NFL gave the nod of approval to the hiring of Bundchen as a special adviser to the board.
This isn’t to say that anyone is doing anything they shouldn’t be doing. It’s just further proof of how the world has so significantly changed when it comes to the firewall that the NFL maintains between gambling on its product and the integrity of its product. Only six years after the NFL strong-armed media and players who had committed to attend the Romo event because, egads!, it was happening in a building owned by a casino, a gambling company has given a significant position to the spouse of the greatest player in NFL history.
The firewall still remains in place; players and coaches and officials can’t be involved in gambling. However, it’s getting thinner all the time, and the fire on the other side of it will continue to burn out of control.