Sports | September 21, 2021 11:24 am

NBC’s Tony Dungy Hints NFL Gambling Ads May Drive Him Out of Football

"I think it's going to nose its way into our business," the former coach said of sports betting, "and I don’t think it’s good."

Tony Dungy holding a microphone prior to the NFL opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys
Tony Dungy prior to the NFL opener between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Dallas Cowboys.
Julio Aguilar/Getty

Expected to take in several hundred million dollars in revenue this season alone after inking deals with seven sportsbook operators (Caesars, DraftKings, FanDuel, FOX Bet, BetMGM, PointsBet and WynnBet), the NFL has fully embraced legalized sports betting after fighting against it for decades.

Given how big a cash cow gambling appears to be, most people connected to the NFL are happy to see the league milk it and reap the benefits either directly or indirectly. But Tony Dungy — who used to coach in the league and is now a longtime broadcaster for NBC — is not of those people.

Dungy, who the Sports Business Journal calls “the conscience of the NFL,” works on television on a network that now airs league-sanctioned gambling ads with great frequency. A devout Christian, Dungy recently hinted that those ads and the NFL’s direct connection to gambling could push him out of covering football and working around the game.

“That’s going to be the one thing that drives me out of this,” he told SBJ. “We are getting so much pressure — and we’ve got to do these things for sponsors, No. 1. We have a segment powered by Microsoft, and we tell our story, but we’ve got to do it on a Microsoft tablet instead of a regular video. I get that. They’re sponsoring us, and we’ve got the Toyota halftime show. But now we’ve got to do 2 or 3 segments about fantasy football, and gambling. I want to talk about the game, and I don’t want to talk about how many yards Nick Chubb is going to have tonight. That might be part of the story, and [NBC Sports executive producer] Sam [Flood] is always saying, ‘Weave that in.’ I’d like to just tell that story, rather than say ‘I think Nick Chubb is going to get 75 yards, so make sure you click there and dial that up so you can make a million dollars.’ I’m very frustrated by that. I think it’s going to nose its way into our business, and I don’t think it’s good.”

It’s a noble sentiment — and also an unpopular one. Dungy may not like it, but gambling is here to stay in a big way.