NFL Posts Sports Betting VP Job Days After Suspending Calvin Ridley
Posted on: March 12, 2022, 04:56h.
Last updated on: March 13, 2022, 01:33h.
The timing may be a bit curious to some, but the National Football League posted a job opening on Friday morning: Vice President, General Manager – Sports Betting.
As Bill King from Sports Business Journal noted, the league actually created the position two years ago before implementing a hiring freeze because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The NFL’s job description said the person selected for the role would serve as the “key leader” for its legalized sports betting (LSB) initiatives and work with others across the league.
This role will be responsible for continuing growth and strategy, advancing LSB initiatives and partnerships across the League and its 32 member clubs, ensuring accurate and timely communication to senior management and ownership,” the job description states. “The ideal candidate works collaboratively, builds consensus while anticipating future dependencies, possesses strong interpersonal leadership qualities, and has a deep understanding of both the sports betting and general sports business landscapes.”
There is no timetable for when the league may fill the executive role.
Upholding League Integrity a Priority
The job description lists four objectives for the role. The first is “Continuing to Protect the Integrity of the Game.”
The league’s integrity came under the spotlight this past week when the league suspended Calvin Ridley for at least a year. The ruling came down after officials learned the Atlanta Falcons star receiver placed a series of parlay wagers that included bets on his team to win.
According to reports, Ridley placed bets in late November using the Hard Rock Sportsbook app. He was not an active member of the Falcons at the time, as the team placed him on the non-football illness list earlier in the season. The former 1,000-yard receiver cited mental health issues as his reason to step away.
The NFL’s investigation subsequently determined Ridley did not have any insider information, nor were any games compromised. Still, the league deemed it essential to hand down a stiff sanction against a high-profile player.
“There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success – and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league – than upholding the integrity of the game,” Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in a letter to Ridley informing him of the league’s action. “This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL.”
NFL Also Looks to Increase Value, Fan Engagement
The NFL’s other objectives for legal wagering include advancing the league’s reputation and brand, increasing fan engagement around the world, and making the league’s data and intellectual property more valuable.
Like other professional sports leagues, the NFL shifted quickly from opposing legalized sports betting to embracing it. Part of that was to have some say or possible control in how sportsbooks operated in new markets. A larger reason was to ensure it and teams get a share of the gaming proceeds. That’s taking place through efforts to require official data for grading bets, and allowing teams to establish partnerships with legal operators.
For example, Caesars Sportsbook and the Indianapolis Colts used their partnership to help the team boost season ticket sales.
In some states, NFL teams have or will have access to betting licenses they can then allocate to operators. Construction started two months ago on a BetMGM sportsbook at State Farm Stadium in Phoenix, where the Arizona Cardinals play. Ohio’s recently enacted sports betting law will allow the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns to partner with sportsbooks.
The expanded gaming law in Illinois that legalized sports betting in the state will also allow major professional teams to partner with operators as well. That means if the Chicago Bears end up building a new stadium at Arlington Park, it may very well come with a sportsbook.