On the heels of yet another player sports betting investigation, the NFL appears to have found its version of McGruff the Crime Dog or Smokey Bear: None other than legendary and recently-retired quarterback Tom Brady.
Brady reportedly starred in a recorded educational video for the league where he explains the NFL's gambling policy, according to 9News' Mike Klis. This video is reportedly shown at the team's rookie minicamps and training camps and sounds like one of the three ways the NFL notifies its players of what is and isn't allowed. The basic tenets of the policy are simply: Don't bet on anything NFL-related and don't place bets at team facilities.
While we don't have a copy of the video, Klis detailed what it's included in Brady's message:
"[Brady] talks about his love of football and how the opportunity to play in the NFL was a privilege of a lifetime. He then says betting on NFL games hurts the integrity of the league and the reputation of everyone on your team and it's just not worth it.
"... [he] also emphasizes how the players worked too hard to get the NFL to let one bad decision ruin the opportunity – not just for you, the player, but your teammates and tomorrow's players.
"Brady concludes his message by imploring players to do the right thing and follow the league's guidelines on gambling, which will be explained shortly, to help the NFL continue to be the greatest league in the world."
One can only imagine something similar to the iconic Rachael Leigh commercial from the 1990s where she smashes an egg with a frying pan to symbolize what happens to a human body on heroin.
NFL suspended 6 players for gambling since 2022
The 2023 season is still months away, but six players have already been suspended in the past year. Two others, including Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers and an unnamed member of the Detroit Lions, could be as well. Four of those five players were also members of the Lions while the other, defensive end Shaka Toney, plays for the Washington Commanders.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley already served a one-year suspension this past season after the NFL determined he placed bets while away from the Atlanta Falcons. He was traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars during the 2022 season and was reinstated in March.
This is the unsavory consequence of the NFL's decision to lean into the sports betting world, and it'll be a hard one to climb out of. Brady is the master of fourth-quarter comebacks, but the NFL is counting on his message to do a lot of work to clean up the league's mess.
Whether or not Brady's message will work remains to be seen.