We all know the phrase “suspension of disbelief.” For NFL stars Travis and Jason Kelce, the brothers who launched the highly popular New Heights podcast last year, the recent onslaught of news coming out of the league office has them expressing disbelief over suspensions.
The suspensions announced June 29 of four NFL players for violating the league’s sports gambling policy brought the total number of players penalized for these infractions to nine in 2023 alone. Younger Kelce brother Travis, the Kansas City Chiefs’ standout tight end, could barely find the words as he expressed exasperation with his peers last week on Episode 48 of New Heights.
“What am I missing?” Travis wondered as Jason, the Philadelphia Eagles’ center, read the news of Isaiah Rodgers Sr. and three others getting caught betting on NFL games or from team facilities. “Where are players getting it confused that they can gamble on NFL games?
“I don’t know what they do in Philly,” Travis continued. “I’ve only been in Kansas City. But every single year in training camp, you get told that there is no betting in the facility or in any NFL building — no betting period … [and] you cannot bet on NFL games at all. That’s been my understanding of the rule the entire time. Before sports betting was allowed, before we had all these casinos as our sponsors in the NFL … I’ve completely understood that you cannot bet on games. Why is this offseason everybody getting hit with betting on NFL games?”
Replied Jason: “I just think more guys are doing it because it’s easier to do now with all the betting apps and all that stuff. And it’s more traceable probably, because people do it on apps.”
More from the Kelces
Jason said on the podcast that it’s common among NFL players to make head-to-head bets with teammates on their respective college teams (while Travis amusingly played dumb and acted like he’s never heard of such a thing). Jason suggested perhaps there are some blurred lines as he asked, “What level is acceptable?”
The brothers both played their college ball at the University of Cincinnati, so they are well familiar with Reds great Pete Rose and his sports betting proclivities. For Travis, that was all the cautionary tale he needed: “I’ve seen what happened to his career, and I think, why even flirt with [sports betting]? Why even play around with it?”
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Nevertheless, Travis expressed the same opinion recently shared by New England Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones that betting on your own team to win should be acceptable. Big bro Jason had to set Travis straight on that, though he didn’t get into the intricacies of why it’s problematic to bet on your team for one game if you don’t then bet the exact same amount on them every game thereafter.
Instead, Jason focused on the dangers of betting and losing big for athletes.
“I really don’t think people understand the effect that gambling has and the amount of debt that you can get into quickly,” he said. “It’s been made very much normalized in our culture recently, and it’s becoming so in the NFL, and it does affect the integrity of the game. It’s not as simple as just betting on your team to win. There’s a lot more factors in play here.”
Travis, who noted that he enjoys playing roulette when at a casino, ended the discussion with an expletive-laden rant about being sick and tired of having to be lectured on the league’s sports gambling rules over and over.
“I’m f***ing upset,” Travis said, “only because now I have to sit through an even longer meeting on why the f*** I can’t gamble, what I shouldn’t gamble on. Now the league has to do their due diligence and make sure they make it f***ing clear that we can’t f***ing gamble in the facility or on NFL games anywhere. As if they didn’t already go over that.”
ESPN tries to mine comedy via fantasy
Fantasy football season is fast approaching, and ESPN is leaning into promoting its fantasy hosting and content with a trio of new commercials. The ads try for chuckles built around the idea that fantasy football is the ultimate icebreaker and a modern-day universal language.
One 15-second spot lifts one of comedian Brian Regan’s best-known bits — inappropriate use of the “you too” reply — to set the table for fantasy football talk:
There’s also a 30-second ad that positions fantasy football as the solution to an uncomfortable “meet the parents” situation:
And lastly, there’s another 30-second ad that shames both the chatty driver and the half-PPR enthusiast:
The commercials began running Monday on ESPN platforms and will continue airing through Sept. 10, the first Sunday of NFL season.
VSiN expands presence with VoiceAmerica deal
The audio availability of sports betting-focused network VSiN continues to expand, as the Las Vegas-based company last week announced a content distribution agreement with digital broadcast company VoiceAmerica.
According to a press release, “VoiceAmerica plans to make VSiN’s premier sports betting content the foundation of its new gaming channel available to more than 30 million listeners of its original live and on-demand talk radio programming.”
Said Brian Musberger, the founder and CEO of the DraftKings-owned VSiN: “We’re thrilled to work with VoiceAmerica to bring VSiN’s brand of sports wagering content to even more of the nation’s growing number of fans who bet on sports. This relationship will further expand VSiN’s audio reach, building on our position as the largest sports betting network in the U.S.”