THE COUCH SLOUCH

If you bet on Roger Goodell completely changing his stance on gambling, cash your ticket

Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Money never sleeps, correct? Well, the sun never sets on the sports-betting empire either. What, there are no games right now? Recently, Bovada started allowing action junkies to place bets on the weather – that's right, over/under wagers on the high temperature of, say, Philadelphia.***

Gambling never sleeps.

Which immediately brings us to Roger Goodell, the man who pimps for the National Football League at $40 million-plus per annum and a man who probably sleeps in his Armani suit to remind himself that there is moolah to be made every day and twice on Sundays.

While America snoozed during the early days of the coronavirus crisis in mid-March, NFL players approved the new collective bargaining agreement with league owners through 2030. And in that CBA, the NFL – that beacon of morality fighting against the point spread since the days before Pete Rozelle turned 21 – reached an accord with its players to share gambling revenue.

Before we get back to that betting blockbuster, let's briefly review the current NFL commissioner's public-stance history vis-à-vis gambling.

Ooh, this is going to be fun!

In 2003, Goodell and the NFL would not allow the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Bureau to run a 30-second commercial promoting the city's tourism during the Super Bowl.

In 2009, Goodell wrote a letter to then-Delaware Gov. Jack Markell in protest of his state's effort to renew its NFL betting lottery, saying, "By legalizing sports betting it will be in Delaware's interest to create ever larger numbers of new gamblers as the state attempts to maximize any revenue found in this promotion. The negative social impact of additional gambling cannot be minimized in a community."

In 2012, as the NFL challenged efforts by New Jersey to legalize sports gambling, Goodell said, "It's a very strongly held view in the NFL, it has been for decades, that the threat that gambling could occur in the NFL or fixing of games or that any outcome could be influenced by the outside could be very damaging to the NFL and very difficult to ever recover from."

In 2017, after league owners voted approval of the Raiders' move from Oakland to Las Vegas, Goodell said, "Society in general has a little bit of a change with respect to gambling in general. We've seen that. I think we still strongly oppose legalized sports gambling. The integrity of our game is No. 1. We will not compromise on that."

And now, in 2020, Goodell, on a visit to Las Vegas, said, "We think that sports gambling in many ways creates a lot more engagement for our fans. It gives them another opportunity to engage with the game."

Oh my goodness, oh my goodness, Roger Goodell is a BORN-AGAIN GAMBLER!

How did this happen? Well, a Supreme Court ruling nearly two years ago opened the door for states to allow sports betting and the Raiders begin play in Las Vegas this fall, so, suddenly, the NFL stance is: Let's roll the dice and join the party!!!

Which brings us back to the new CBA. David Purdum of espn.com reported last week that the agreement refers to revenue from "gambling on any aspect of NFL games, any performance of NFL players in NFL games or in any other NFL/Club-related activity." Owners and players will share revenues, the CBA states, generated "by the operation of gambling-related businesses located in or physically attached to an NFL Stadium."

It even mentions potential profits from slot machines "located in or physically attached to an NFL Stadium."

I'll let you all absorb that for a moment or two.

After generations of stonewalling and bad-mouthing sports betting, the NFL now embraces gambling as long as the league gets its cut. Seventeen states, including seven that are home to NFL teams, already operate legal sports books.

Sooner or later, fans will be placing bets on NFL games while in NFL stadiums.

P.S. The NFL reportedly also is looking to hire a "vice president of sports betting."

I am available, but I do not work weekends.

(*** Pro tip: It's always going to be hotter than you think in Philly in the summer and colder than you think in the winter.)

Ask The Slouch

Q. With strip clubs closed, strippers in Portland, Ore., are making food deliveries topless. Did you think nothing positive could come out of this pandemic? (Jim O'Brien; Racine, Wis.)

A. You have inspired me – I am writing next week's column bottomless.

Q. If I told you that President Trump reached out to Alex Rodriguez last week for coronavirus advice, what would you say? (Julian Kaplan; Chicago)

A. I did not realize that human growth hormone was a possible vaccine for covid-19.

Q. So everyone now is sitting around watching TV all day. Why are you getting paid for it? (Mark Cohen; Gibsonia, Pa.)

A. You have uncovered my adult-lifelong professional scam to financial independence.

Q. Since this was supposed to be the start of the baseball season, are the Orioles already mathematically out of it? (Mike Kupiec; Green Island, N.Y.)

A. Pay the man, Shirley.

You, too, can enter the $1.25 Ask The Slouch Cash Giveaway. Just email asktheslouch@aol.com and, if your question is used, you win $1.25 in cash!



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The Rockets may be the smartest guys in the room. Or the cheapest

The Rockets have their new head coach. Composite photo by Brandon Strange

On Wednesday afternoon, ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski broke the news that the Rockets' coaching search had come to an end finally. The front office tabbed Mavericks assistant Stephen Silas as the successor to Mike D'Antoni, beating out former Rockets head coach Jeff Van Gundy and current Rockets assistant John Lucas.

Knee jerk reaction?

I'm not mad at it. I expected Jeff Van Gundy to be the next hire, but maybe that was just nostalgia clouding my judgment. Either way, the Silas hire should be viewed optimistically. He's been highly regarded for some time around the league as an inventive mind that comes from basketball pedigree and has worked with big-name guards in prior stops around the league. If the Rockets didn't grab him, it was only a matter of time before another team gave him a shot.

Now there are two very distinct ways to look at this hire:

The first is that the Rockets, in spite of being one of the last teams to fill their coaching vacancy, are the smartest kids in the room. Every team is looking for the next version of what the Celtics found in their current head coach, Brad Stevens; a young brilliant coach that just needed a team to give him a shot. Hired at 37 from the college ranks, Stevens endured one losing season (his first) and has since guided the Celtics to six playoff appearances, to include three conference finals appearances. Not bad, considering he was up against LeBron James for most of those.

That is what it looks like the Rockets are trying to go for. Now at 47, Silas probably won't be mistaken for a wunderkind, but compared to 69-year-old D'Antoni, he might as well be announcing his hire on Tik Tok. If it works out, the Rockets will have once again been one step ahead of the league with the hiring of their innovative new coach.

The other way to look at the Silas hire is a little less rosy.

While Silas is only 47, he's also been an assistant in the league since he was 27. The positive spin on his resume is that he's worked with star players the likes of Kemba Walker, LeBron James, and Stephen Curry. The reality is that he worked with them while they were very young in their careers, and worked on teams like the Cavaliers, Bobcats/Hornets, Wizards, and Warriors (when they were bad). Until the last two seasons working with Luka Doncic on the Mavericks, there hasn't been a lot of success following Silas. That's not necessarily an indictment since he was an assistant, but it's not exactly a sparkling pedigree.

So while this could be a brilliant hire, at the moment, it has all of the markings of the cheaper hire. As I've mentioned before, Rockets owner Tilman Fertitta has been quite vocal about the financial impact that COVID-19 has had on his portfolio. Clips and quotes moaning and groaning about losing money are not typically precursors to an owner gearing up to make a big financial investment in the front office of a sports team that he can't sell tickets for anyone to come see. If in fact, money factored in more than fit, it would make sense that the Rockets would forego a coach like Van Gundy, whose previous head coaching experience would automatically command a higher starting price. We'll, of course, have to wait and see what the actual contract figures are once released.

It could be one. It could be the other. It could be both. Hopefully it translates into wins either way.

One thing that's for certain though is that Silas needs to take some pointers from Russell Westbrook and James Harden before he steps out courtside in any more of those TJ Maxx suits, circa 2000. Big boy job means big boy suits.

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