NFL Players Participate in Charity Poker

The game of poker is usually thought of as a game played by individuals whose only purpose is to win money from others. The game is also used by some in order to raise money for the community through charity poker events. Celebrities, music stars, as well as athletes come out in force for these events. Among the athletes that you will usually see play at the events are NFL stars, at least when the league doesn’t forbid them to play.

Last March, several New York Jets players turned out for the 3rd Annual NYC Celebrity Poker Tournament that benefited the Mt. Sinai Children’s Hospital and the Ride 2 Recovery. Drew Coleman, Tanner Purdum and Marquice Cole were among the players that helped raise $20,000 for charity.

Earlier this month, several players turned out for the 2nd Annual Tyler’s Team event to support the Tyler McLellan Foundation. The Tyler McLellan Foundation raises money for youth sports in South Florida. Errict Rhett of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as well as John Brock and Jim Jensen of the Miami Dolphins took part in the event. The three also played in last year’s event.

While NFL players are willing to give their time and money for worthy causes, the league offices are not as willing to let the players participate. The biggest and perhaps most embarrassing example of this strange policy happened last February when the league prevented several NFL players from participating in the Raise Your Hand for Africa charity event at the Golden Nugget in Las Vegas.

Larry Fitzgerald, Adrian Peterson, Roy Williams, Curtis Lofton, and Vernon Davis were all scheduled to play in the event but were banned from playing at the last moment by NFL officials. The players were all men of their word and still showed up to the event and served as cheerleaders as players took part in a tournament where the entire prize pool went to charity.

Many speculated that since the event was held at a casino, the league was uncomfortable with players being seen competing in a gambling game at a casino. The league has always had concerns over bookmakers getting their hooks into players and having matches fixed. However, in this case their decision cause a major PR black eye for the league and that may be why some players have been allowed to fly under the radar.

Charity events are not major gambling competitions where players win millions, or really even anything of significant value. The winners in those games are the charities who receive the donations from the players who use their money and their status to benefit those less fortunate. Hopefully the NFL front offices will keep this in mind and relax their policies so that more NFL players can play in these events.

One Response to “NFL Players Participate in Charity Poker”

  • March 30, 2012  - txchief says:

    I think the league’s concern over these events goes beyond bookmakers trying to control players and potentially the outcome of games. The NFL does not want to allow the players to use their status as an NFL player to to promote gambling in any form. To blame the NFL for loss of donations to charities is unfair. There is nothing stopping the casinos from making charitable donations on their own of they truly cared.

    The casino owners use such “charity” events as promotions to entice more people to their facilities to be clipped, indirectly using the NFL as a tool to endorse casino gambling and enhance their profits. As a business owner, I would not allow my employees to use the name of my business as a tool to encourage others engage in potentially dangerous, irresponsible and potentially addictive behaviors either. I would think that many charities would not wish to be associated with the gambling industry and have their cause commercialized as well. Remember Bob, gambling is a penalty on persons who are ignorant of mathematics and are vulnerable to persuasion.

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