The rumors have percolated in industry circles for weeks. Wednesday’s developments may have caused the rumors to transmogrify into an official report.
Via Michael McCarthy and A.J. Perez of FrontOfficeSports.com, Caesaers Sportsbook “is preparing go after” ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Schefter’s contract expires in the summer of 2022. A buzz has been building among those in the NFL media business that Schefter plans to leave ESPN for one of the gambling companies. Surely, Caesers isn’t the only one thinking about trying to hire him.
None of that should be a surprise. The sports books are VERY aggressive about exploring opportunities to add individual reporters/analysts and/or entire media companies. A massive audience for sports content instantly becomes a captive audience for the purposes of converting members of that audience into gambling customers.
As more and more states legalize gambling, the competition for media personalities and/or media outlets will intensify.
What’s compelling about the Schefter/Caesars report is that, while it had been an open secret for many in the media, it finally became reduced to print last night, after Schefter found himself heavily criticized for sending an unpublished article to Washington executive Bruce Allen in 2011, referring to Allen as “Mr. Editor,” and asking Allen if there is anything that should be “added, changed, tweaked” before the story goes live.
Well after defending himself in a Wednesday morning radio appearance, Schefter issued a statement acknowledging that he shouldn’t have done what he did. The statement was not posted or amplified by Schefter’s Twitter account, but by the much smaller ESPN P.R. Twitter page.
Throw in the publication of a report that took the backroom chatter public in the hours after Schefter issued a statement that he quite possibly didn’t want to issue, and it’s fair to wonder whether Schefter or his agent leaked his potential departure as a message to ESPN. Indeed, the die may have been cast the moment Schefter concluded (if he did) that ESPN didn’t support him on the Allen situation the way that Schefter believed it should.
Meanwhile, the article about Schefter also mentions that “cash-rich gambling companies could eventually try to pick off ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.” That’s not an accident. The chatter has been that Schefter and Wojnarowski are considering joining a gambling company as part of a package deal.
The question of reporters whose value comes from having inside information (even if, as to Schefter, it’s obtained and published literally five minutes before it’s otherwise announced) working for gambling operations who thrive on having inside information raises plenty of questions that may or may not ever be fully explored and resolved.
While some will suggest that the NFL will be faced with telling its teams to cut Schefter off if he works for a sports book, someone will need to remind the NFL of the ever-growing collection of gambling commercials that end with a reference to the fact that the company in question is an “official sports betting partner of the NFL.”