Why The NFL’s New Sports Betting Exec Will Have Their Work Cut Out For Them

Written By Brant James on March 17, 2022 - Last Updated on March 18, 2022

“Wanted: Executive in charge of emerging vertical for one of the most popular products but least popular companies in the United States. Sports betting experience required. May have to discipline frequent employee-of-the-year in first weeks on the job. Inquire within.”

That’s nothing close to the National Football League’s actual job posting for a vice president and general manager of sports betting. But there’s plenty of corporate-speak in there denoting the possibility of the same thing.

As part of their duties to “protect the integrity of the game,” this new hire will immediately have Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley in their in-basket. Ridley is suspended at least through the 2022 season for betting on NFL games in November.

And then there’s the Tom Brady thing. It’s not known publicly what or how much of a thing this constitutes. But when major sportsbook executives decry suspicious betting patterns because large wagers came in on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Super Bowl futures days before the six-time champion unretired, there’s a thing.

Granted, Commissioner Roger Goodell remains a mega-powerful arbiter of all things NFL.

And the new job description projects more of a relationship-builder who can anticipate “future dependencies” and “develop a clear vision for the future of NFL digital gaming experiences.”

That would certainly involve marrying sportsbook partners Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings, and FanDuel deeper into programming.

But “advancing the NFL’s Integrity monitoring and education programs” is right there in the fifth bullet point. And that’s when the job won’t be as anodyne as the description suggests.

New NFL betting GM has tough role in growing revenue, protecting image

Though this is a newly created position, it basically replaces Christopher Halpin, the former chief strategy and growth officer who was widely assumed to be the eventual Goodell successor. But Halpin left the NFL in January for digital media company IAC. That left a major void.

Halpin had been the symbolic breaker of ice in the NFL’s post-PASPA thaw regarding legal sports betting and how it could be integrated as an engagement tool for new and current fans.

Of course, the league and gambling industries were already cognizant of the might of NFL betting, both legally – then only in a handful of states – and as a black market.

Now they had to do the dance between integrity – read: betting scandal – and revenue and hope nothing bad ever happens.

Not that this new executive will need any more pressure, but they’re basically being given the recipe for sunshine – football! – and told not to mess it up.

And so, not surprisingly, according to the posting, the job is full-time. And then some.

Photo by Alena Veasey / Shutterstock
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Brant James

Brant James is a veteran journalist who has twice been recognized in the Associated Press Sports Editors Awards, most recently in 2020. He's covered motorsports, the National Hockey League and Major League Baseball among a myriad of others beats and written enterprise and sports business for publications including USA TODAY, ESPN.com, SI.com.

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