I spoke to a
former NFL player today who said that he—himself personally—had taken part in
"six or seven" point-fixing conspiracies. In one of them, he said, 11
teammates were involved.
I believe him.
His revelations have the quirky ring of truth.
I consider myself
neither naive nor cynical about these things. It would be foolish to ignore the
possibility of larceny when there is so much money at stake. I suspect that
there have been, are and always will be isolated incidents.
Having said that,
I must admit I was startled by what I was told. The NFL has never uncovered a
single case of a fix, at least for public consumption. I was now getting
chapter and verse on fixes plural.
I was getting it
in Boston in an airport restaurant. We met there because the ex-player had
spent his career in the NFL before the merger with the AFL, and we felt that
since he was relatively unknown to begin with, the chances of anyone
recognizing him in an AFL city were none or less. He is big but not huge. A
broken nose is the only physical clue to his past.
He said that he
began by betting on his own team when it was a very bad team and was listed as
a big underdog. "I was dumb," he said. "I always bet on myself. I
always thought we would win. We always lost. We'd be a 14-point underdog and
lose by four touchdowns."
I asked him where
and with whom and how much he bet.
He said that he
hung out with other players at a bar. He bet with a bookie. "Never more
than $300." He said he didn't know whether other players were betting.
How did he get
started betting against himself?