Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Sports Gambling Will Not Affect NFL Officiating

Mike Pereira assured fans that league officials will continue to uphold the integrity of the game

November 01, 2018 - 6:30 pm

The U.S. Supreme Court legalized sports betting in May, and its decision has sent a ripple effect throughout the sports world.

With lawmakers across the nation debating on the potential regulations surrounding their newfound state right, critics have voiced plausible concerns about how sports betting will affect the “integrity” of active sports participants, including players, coaches, and officials.

Former NFL VP of Officiating and current Fox NFL rules analyst Mike Pereira discussed this very issue on CBS Sports Radio.

“I don’t think it has any effect on officiating,” Pereira said on Reiter Than You. “(NFL officials) are not going to be affected by the new gambling law.”

Pereira said that while sports betting has been decriminalized, sports and gambling have never been mutually exclusive.

“It’s a new legalized gambling law, but gambling has been going on forever,” Pereira said. “It’s just been more under the cover unless it’s Vegas – or Atlantic City now.”

NFL officiating, Pereira reminded listeners, is a part-time job. There’s a reason for that.

“Officiating is part-time in my book because we bring in successful people in their own businesses to officiate,” Pereira said. “Officiating in the NFL, or really any other level, is a once-a-week game, and we wanted successful people officiating so they would not at all be susceptible to any kind of a bribe. That’s why we’ve never had to deal with anything like that, and trust me — we look at everybody, every year, to see if there’s anything suspect that might be going on.”

Critics, however, have two words for Pereira: Tim Donaghy.

The former NBA referee pleaded guilty to two felony charges of conspiracy for betting on basketball games that he officiated during the 2005-06 and 2006-07 seasons. Remembering the uproar that was caused by Donaghy’s offenses, Pereira recounted a conversation he had with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when the public outrage was at its peak.

“When that happened,” Pereria said, “Roger Goodell came to me and said, ‘You know, the good news is that this didn’t happen to us in the NFL. Now, let’s pretend like it did. What could we do to solidify our processes to make sure that it never does happen again?’ And we did things like not releasing schedules in advance and doing background checks at minimum once a year.”

While Pereira can’t speak on behalf players and coaches, he assured fans that they have nothing to worry about when it comes to gambling and NFL officiating.

“I can’t speak for players or for the game,” Pereira said. “I can only speak for the guys that have the most integrity of anybody else that’s involved in the game of football, and that’s the officials. It’s not going to happen, so that’s to me why it’s a non-issue.”