Online Poker

NFL Bans Players From Charity Poker Event

by Omar

For years, players, fans and media members alike have privately, and sometimes publicly said that the National Football League’s initials, NFL, actually stands for No Fun League. In the past, they have put the clamps down on on-field celebrations after a touchdown or sack, and have placed stiff fines on players in addition to unsportsmanlike conduct, personal foul penalties they receive on the field as a result. Citing the need to protect the integrity of the game, the league this year famously imposed a mandate against what it deems to be excessive hits, making Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison the unwitting example.

But it was in this latest event that has left football fans and the poker world scratching their heads as the powers-that-be in the league offices officially prohibited its players from participating in a celebrity poker tournament being played for charity. The tournament was set up to benefit the Starkey Hearing Foundation and Pros for Africa, a non-profit relief organization providing basic needs to the children of Africa and was scheduled for this past weekend at the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas. Among the NFLers scheduled to appear were the likes of Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, Minnesota Vikings running back Adrian Peterson, San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis, St. Louis Rams wide receiver Mark Clayton, and Cincinnati Bengals safety Roy Williams, a true all-star lineup of some of football’s best.

Had they been allowed to take part in the $2,000 buy in with $500 rebuy event, they would have assisted in raising even more money for a very worthwhile cause. Among the celebrities on hand to take part in the event were poker players Phil Hellmuth, Howard Lederer, Annie Duke, and Johnny Chan. They sat among such actors/singers such as Steve Martin, Don Cheadle, Kevin Sorbo, Jordin Sparks, and Lou Ferrigno. The event was not even set to give away cash prizes to those fortunate enough to last to the latter stages. Top prizes included a 2011 CSM #2 Shelby Mustang, which was awarded to the winning player. Other prizes included iPads and trips to places such as South Africa, Mexico ad South America. Given the fact that none of the 350 participants received any type of cash prizes, it is curious that the NFL would still go to such great lengths to distance itself from something even remotely tied to gambling. The NFL players did not end of playing, they just mingled with the crowd and watched the event.

For years, the NFL has gone to great lengths to distance themselves from any and all types of gambling. In fact, they were one of the largest supporters of the controversial passing of the UIGEA back in 2006. Their opposition continued when Congressman Barney Frank began to introduce legislation to legalize online poker. It wasn’t until Frank agreed to word his legislation as such to outlaw online sportsbetting, that they backed off. As long as fantasy football, which is immensely popular in the United States has its own niche carved out, the NFL would love nothing more than to see gambling disappear.

It would seem however that making a political statement at a charity function does little to nothing to further its own agenda.

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