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Rookie Betting Controversy Overblown for Millionaire NFL Players

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If you’re an average American, 70 bucks isn’t make or break money. After all, the median salary for an American worker is $59,384, according to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD).

Sure, it’s money, the $70 – or a little more than one-tenth of a percent of the median salary – but it’s not “money.” It’s a night out. That’s Chili’s for four people, less drinks. That’s a movie date night, with popcorn and a pre-show cocktail. It’s three Milly Maker entries and a six-pack.

So yeah. While no one is sneezing at $70, it’s not all that a significant number. It’s filling up your Ford Explorer.

Of course, while prices are fixed, salaries are not. And so if someone was 10X-ing the median salary to $593,840, and we 10X’ed the $70 to $700, it would be more money (duh) but the $700 would be significantly less valuable.

Heck, let’s 100X it: If you were making nearly $6 million a year, would a little over $7,000 mean much of anything? It’s pocket change. At $6 million a year, you’d have to spend over $16,000 each and every day to run out of money.

Which brings us to the sports betting hand-wringing, pearl-clutching, panty-twisting scandal du jour, the since-canceled $10,000 bet between friends and former LSU teammates Malik Nabers and Jayden Daniels.

The bet that was canceled

The two – who will make north of $16 million yearly combined, on average, over the four years of their rookie contracts – made a friendly $10,000 wager. The rules were simple: If one of them won Rookie of the Year, the other would pay up.

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This is – percentage-wise – like you and the guy in the cubicle next to you betting $70 if one of you leads the office in WENUS for the year.

Nabers, who was the sixth pick by the New York Giants in the 2024 NFL Draft, first spilled the beans on the bet on The Pivot podcast with Ryan Clark. Daniels confirmed the wager last Wednesday on the All Facts No Brakes podcast with Keyshawn Johnson.

By Friday, the bet was off.

I’m educated now that I got here about sports betting and gambling,” Nabers told the press. “So we’re calling the bet off. There is no bet now. It was just another brother pushing another brother to try to get to success. That is all it was.”

Daniels, drafted second by the Washington Commanders, also noted the bet was canceled.

“We were uneducated on the gambling policy in the NFL,” Daniels said. “We learned about it last night. Me and him had a conversation and we canceled the bet. Obviously we don’t want to get in trouble, so we’re focused on being the best players for our respective teams.”

First off: The hubris on these two, as Caleb Williams, the number one pick for the Chicago Bears, is the favorite for Rookie of the Year, at +175 on DraftKings. (Daniels is +650, Nabers is +1400. Nabers should’ve at least gotten 2-to-1 odds on the bet.)

Secondly: Eh, as in, “Eh, I’m having a hard time getting worked up about this.”

Heck, even the NFL seems a little whatever-y about the situation, as ESPN reached out to the league to ask as to whether or not this violated the gambling policy and … they didn’t hear back.

Rules? Maybe

The league’s rules clearly state players and personnel cannot bet on anything related to the NFL, but, interestingly – and according to ESPN – “private wagers” were explicitly prohibited in the 2022 rules, but not in the 2023 rules.

Furthermore, if they placed the bet before the NFL draft, would it still technically fall under the NFL’s purview?

Oh, and this: Who cares.

Did anyone care back in 2019 when Baker Mayfield and Saquon Barkley made a similar wager, albeit for a diamond-encrusted necklace instead of the cash?

Listen: I get it. Things are different, times change, and you can’t be too careful with the “integrity of the game.”

But did the Nabers-Daniels bet deserve some 7,000 articles written about it (per Google News), 7,000 articles that – without question – make the sports betting tsk-tsk’ers tsk-tsk some more?

The Mayfield-Barkley bet, for the record, garnered about 50 articles. And all of them were of the “gee, what a fun story!” variety.

I’m not denying sports betting is a serious business, not denying there should be consequences for players who break the rules.

But all this ink spilled on what is – see my math at the top – a little side bet between friends? Come on. We’re losing the plot here.

And for the record, Marvin Harrison Jr. at +700 at FanDuel is clearly the best bet for ROY.



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