Rumors circulated in industry circles for weeks. Wednesday’s developments may have caused the rumors transmogrify in an official report.
Via Michael McCarthy and AJ Perez from FrontOfficeSports.com, Caesarers Sportsbook “getting ready to go after”Adam Schefter of ESPN.
Schefter’s contract expires in the summer of 2022. There has been a buzz among players in the NFL media industry that Schefter is considering leaving ESPN for one of the gambling companies. Granted, Caesers isn’t the only one thinking about trying to hire him.
None of this should come as a surprise. Sports betting is VERY aggressive in exploring opportunities to add individual journalists / analysts and / or entire media companies. A massive audience of sports content instantly becomes a captive audience with the goal of converting members of that audience into gambling customers.
As more states legalize gambling, the competition for media figures and / or the media will intensify.
What’s compelling about the Schefter / Caesars report is that while it has been an open secret to many media outlets, it was ultimately reduced to print last night, after Schefter found himself heavily criticized for sending an unpublished article to Washington executive Bruce Allen in 2011, referring to Allen as “Mr. Editor”, and asking Allen if there is anything that should be “added,” modified, refined ”before the story goes live.
Long after defending himself in a radio appearance on Wednesday morning, Schefter released a statement acknowledging that he shouldn’t have done what he did. The statement was not posted or amplified by Schefter’s Twitter account, but by ESPN PR’s much smaller Twitter page.
Throw in the publication of a report that made the behind-the-scenes chatter public within hours of Schefter’s release of a statement he likely didn’t want to release, and it’s fair to wonder if Schefter or his agent disclosed his potential departure as a message to ESPN. Indeed, the dice may have been cast by the time Schefter concluded (if he did) that ESPN did not support him in Allen’s situation as he thought they would.
Meanwhile, the article on Schefter also mentions that “cash-rich gambling companies could possibly try to get rid of ESPN NBA insider Adrian Wojnarowski.” It is not an accident. The gossip has been that Schefter and Wojnarowski are considering joining a gambling company as part of a global deal.
The question of journalists whose value comes from having inside information (even if, as far as Schefter is concerned, it is obtained and published literally five minutes before it is otherwise announced) working for gaming operations which thrive on inside information raises many questions that may or may not ever be fully explored and resolved.
While some will suggest that the NFL will be faced with telling its teams to cut Schefter if he works for a sports book, someone will need to remind the NFL of the ever-growing collection of gambling advertisements that end. by a reference to the fact that the company in question is an “official sports betting partner of the NFL”.