Sports legends embracing gambling on the sport that made them legends is a disturbing trend that in a past era would have been inconceivable.
But not anymore. Today, the wall between professional sports and gambling that had been so carefully maintained and guarded for decades has tumbled to the ground.
As a result, A-list superstars -- including every member of the revered Manning family except Mom -- have jumped on the gambling bandwagon to help position sports wagering as good, clean, harmless fun.
“Fortune awaits!” is a slogan being used by DraftKings, but don’t bet on it. Everyone knows the house always wins.
Moreover, the sad consequences of compulsive and addictive gambling are reported again and again in study after study.
Bankruptcy, domestic violence and suicide are just three of the consequences that take a terrible toll. Seen in this light, the sudden explosion in sports gambling is a ticking social time bomb.
Where sports in particular are concerned, the risks are obvious and supported by history: The mainstreaming of sports gambling can lead inevitably to corruption and fixed games.
It has happened before, which is why professional sports leagues and other sports sanctioning bodies erected barriers to serve as symbols that they in no way endorsed gambling on their games and especially within their own confines.
Now, however, the new mobile gambling apps are promoted all over the place on TV, including all over the NFL with commercials and billboards saturating every game.
These noisy marketing campaigns that have flooded the airwaves are working their magic, attracting new users and turning sports wagering into a new national pastime.
In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, it was widely projected that 31.4 million Americans would bet on the game -- a 35% increase over last year.
The money to be wagered was estimated at $7.6 billion, a 78% increase from a year ago -- due undoubtedly to the new accessibility of mobile sports betting and the promotional clamor around it.
Enter the Mannings -- Peyton, Eli, dad Archie, and the family’s non-football-playing brother, Cooper.
The football careers of Peyton and Eli made the family widely respected and trusted. When the Mannings speak, or appear in commercials for Caesars Sportsbook, people sit up, listen and obey.
In the process, the Mannings are participants in the promotion of a vice that will assuredly result in adverse consequences for at least some of the people who trust them most and to whom the family owes a debt of gratitude -- football fans.
In an attempt presumably to balance out their shilling for this gambling app, Peyton, Archie and Eli are seen in a spot styled like a PSA (pictured above) about the dangers of excessive gambling (a word that the industry has attempted to soften by calling it “gaming”).
This spot, which seems to turn up a lot less frequently than the commercials in which the Mannings are seen clowning with JB Smoove and Halle Berry, plays like lip service.
In this context, it is only fair to mention that the Mannings are not the only football greats who have gone into business with the sports betting industry.
One other one is football Hall of Famer Jerry Rice, who is seen doing some atrocious clowning of his own as he continually dumps Gatorade on some guy in an oft-repeated commercial for DraftKings.
In 1970, boxing legend Joe Louis accepted an offer from Caesar’s Palace to serve as a “greeter” at its Las Vegas casino complex.
This job is often portrayed in popular lore as demeaning to the great former champion. But it reportedly helped him resolve financial issues that had dogged him for years.
In short, Joe Louis took up a job with a gambling casino because he needed the money. By all appearances, the Mannings and Jerry Rice do not.