The key to private wagers among players? Keep it private

If Giants receiver Malik Nabers hadn’t blurted out to The Pivot podcast his $10,000 bet with Commanders rookie (and former LSU teammate) Jayden Daniels regarding which of them would win offensive rookie of the year, the bet would still stand.

For all anyone knows, it still does.

The relatively simple hack in situations like this is to zip it. If Nabers hadn’t blabbed, no one would have known about the bet. Then, if one of them had won, the other one would have given him $10,000 and that would have been that.

That’s one of the biggest issues with the NFL’s effort to take as do-as-we-say-not-as-we-do approach to gambling. There’s plenty of information the NFL will never have.

Last month, the Commissioner clumsily tried to justify the NFL’s ongoing cash grab by saying that the league needs to be in partnership with sports books in order to get information from them as to players who might be using those apps for wagers that break the rules. Implicit in this explanation is the fact that the league lacks the ability to catch players who violate the gambling policy, as long as they are discreet.

As one source with extensive knowledge of the dynamics of a locker room recently explained it, players are always betting among themselves. It’s an extension of a culture premised on competition.

“They bet on everything against one another,” the source said. “Their entire life, and every single thing that they do is a competition with and against one another.”

The key is to keep quiet about it. That’s where Nabers messed up. Now that both Nabers and Daniels have said the bet is off, nothing prevents them from winking and nodding at each other, with one ready to give the other a $10,000 gift if/when he wins the prize.

It’s still unclear whether the wager itself violates the rules, if it was locked in before they were drafted. That’s the unresolved loophole in all of this.

Could a player before he is drafted place legal wagers on NFL games and awards? The league has no power over him before he’s employed. If the bet is made before he’s in the NFL but it won’t be resolved until after he’s subject to league policies, is that a violation?

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