Usually I try to begin weeks here at GLS on a positive, upbeat note. That would seem to be especially fitting since I’m in a jovial mood following a long weekend here in the great nation of Canada that involved copious amounts of brown beverage consumption, and a lot of time spent wearing the minimum amount of clothes allowable.

And while today’s item that leads our daily journey through the interconnecting blue words that provide us with infotainment isn’t necessarily bad or depressing news, it’s a little, well, confusing, even if it’s also quite predictable. For the source of this confusion, let’s turn to the continued battle against legalized gambling in the land of the free.

You see, New Jersey would like to gamble legally. Currently four states allow legalized sports gambling — Nevada (duh), Oregon, Delaware, and Montana — and instead of opposing a ban implemented in 1992, back in May New Jersey governor Chris Christie said the state would simply start allowing gambling. Essentially he was and still is saying a very emphatic screw you while raising a few cans of Bud to the roof and screaming “hell yeah!”.

Welp, Christie anticipated a backlash by the four major sports and especially the NFL and NCAA. Countdown to blacklash: 3…2…1….

The NCAA and the four major professional sports leagues (MLB, NBA, NFL and the NHL) today filed a complaint against New Jersey state officials in federal court in Trenton, NJ seeking to stop the state from implementing sports betting on pro and college games.

The leagues and the NCAA assert that the state’s recently announced decision to offer sports betting violates long-standing federal law.  The Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (“PASPA”) became law in 1992 and prohibits states from operating a lottery or betting scheme based on pro or college games.  This law is also known as the “Bradley Act” for its proponent, then New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley.

That’s part of the official press release outlining the seething anger that prompted a lawsuit today. Hmmm, today, only a few days after the first NFL preseason game (which people unbelievably bet on), and a few days before many more teams open their preseason schedules on Thursday. Oh, and just over three weeks before NCAA football starts.

Yes, friends, the football money making machine is churning, and it’s powered by dirty mob money. No one wants that, right?

The NFL sort of seems to, a preference indicated with the league’s participation in this lawsuit. I have to let you in on an industry secret, and you should probably sit down for this, although I’m not quite sure why you were standing up. People will always gamble, and if a legal avenue isn’t available, an illegal one will work just fine, whether it’s through a bookie or an offshore account.

Gambling has always been the dirty secret the NFL has silently acknowledged. Injury reports aren’t made mandatory Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday for fans. They’re for fans of gambling, and fans of making money off wagers that are somewhat controlled, but mostly arbitrary. The lines for every game during every week of every season are also widely available on the constantly scrolling tickers of the major networks. There are no secrets here.

By fighting a clear driver of NFL interest that they know exists, the league is really only pushing a known lucrative business further into dark, dirty shadows. Like, say, the ones in the very state of New Jersey, where crime families have been profiting off of the NFL.

From U.S. News:

Recently in New Jersey, 13 members and associates of the Genovese organized crime family were charged in a scheme to use an overseas sports betting website to run an illegal online sports gambling operation. This perfect storm is made possible by federal laws that essentially give organized crime and overseas interests a virtual monopoly on sports wagering in the 46 states that are prohibited from setting up legal sports wagering.

Legalizing sports wagering recognizes the inevitable—that people are going to bet on sports, whether the practice is legal or not, and that we should provide a safe and legal avenue for them to bet on their favorite teams. By mainstreaming sports wagering, we can take some of the power away from organized crime and offshore Internet operators, and put it in the regulated hands of existing casino and racetrack operators. And we can create new jobs and new economic opportunities for our ailing gaming establishments.

The solution proposed there sounds like a scenario where everyone wins, except the NFL, because only the NFL can make money off of the NFL’s product.

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  • Mike Lupica is eager to be the latest columnist to write at length about a training camp fight while also saying that training camp fights are commonplace, thus making his training camp fight diatribe meaningless. [New York daily News]
  • DeAngelo Williams wants you to come up with his next touchdown dance. Of course, for one to dance after a touchdown, a touchdown must first be scored. [Facebook]
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  • In the least shocking news in the history of time, Brandon Weeden has officially been named Cleveland’s starting quarterback. [CBS]
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