Television commentator and Hall of Fame coach Tony Dungy is criticizing the NFL’s partnerships with gaming companies, saying the league is hypocritical for “promoting gambling” while telling its players not to participate.

Dungy, a Super Bowl-winning coach and a football commentator for NBC, added that he has seen lives ruined by gambling and does not believe the league should be involved.

Dungy’s comments in a series of tweets came after the NFL suspended Atlanta’s Calvin Ridley for the 2022 season for betting on NFL games. Ridley said he bet a total of $1,500 on games and does not “have a gambling problem.” Ridley’s bets took place while he was not with the team – which means he did not wager on a game in which he played, the NFL said.

Last August, the NFL announced partnerships with FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet and WynnBET to become “Approved Sportsbook Operators” for the 2021 NFL season. That news followed announcements of partnerships with Caesars Entertainment, DraftKings and FanDuel.

Dungy said Ridley was “dead wrong” to bet. But he also said the NFL implicitly had a hand in the situation.

“When we as a league encourage everyone to bet on our games, advertise betting on our players’ game stats, take in big money from gambling sites & do everything we can to get our young people to embrace gambling – We can’t be surprised when this happens,” Dungy tweeted.

The NFL, Dungy said, is leading people into gambling addiction.

“Ridley should not be betting. But there are millions of other Americans who should not be betting either because they can’t afford it,” Dungy said. “Or because it becomes addictive. We don’t care about them either as long as we can collect their money.”

Ridley’s wagers, Dungy predicted, will be only “the tip of the iceberg” for the NFL.

“I’VE SEEN THE LIVES IT RUINS,” Dungy tweeted. “But I think it’s hypocritical to say ‘Don’t Gamble’ then promote gambling 24/7 – how much fun it is, how profitable it is. [See] how we can all make money from it. But make sure you don’t do it!”


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Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Scott Halleran/Staff

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.

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