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Interview: Sports conspiracy theorist Brian Tuohy weighs in on current issues and more
Brian Tuohy is a sports conspiracy theorist and author of The Fix is in, a book detailing a number of conspiracy theories that according to him are rampant in professional sports, thus making them less than the pure competition they're perceived to be. Although he does not claim that this phenomenon is true for every game ever played, Tuohy feels there's a clear pattern of behavior from league governing bodies, coaches, players, referees and other entities (such as the mafia) that help fix and "nudge" games for financial profit or possibly even retribution toward a rogue player, coach or owner.
Among his claims:
-Michael Jordan was actually suspended for mounting gambling issues as opposed to retiring in 1993.
-NFL teams are awarded with Super Bowl appearances, championships, and hosting duties for moving to new stadiums and/or new cities.
-NASCAR is a family owned organization and thus has an even easier time manipulating its events than other sports, most notably with "The Call" where some drivers are given word to yield to a more popular driver so that he may win because it would be best for sponsors of the sport.
-The NBA has a history of fixing games and that the allegations brought forth by former official Tim Donaghy should come as no surprise.
-As evidenced by a suspicious poll released before Super Bowl XLIV, outcomes may already be pre-determined (though not to the knowledge of each player).
Additionally, in the book he highlighted that leagues do their best to downplay, ignore, and even cover up players' criminal issues, most notably drunk driving, domestic abuse and drug/performance enhancing drug issues among the players.
Hey Brian, how have you been?
How have I been? Good. The book's selling, I'm getting some media attention, and gaining a fan base. I can't ask for much more at this point.
Tell everyone about your latest works, including the prediction before Super Bowl XLV?
Lately, I've been collecting files from the FBI through the Freedom of Information Act which reveal all of the sports and games they investigated as potentially being fixed. This information will be included in my sequel of sorts to The Fix Is In. There are things in these files that no one's ever discussed publicly and some of the revealations will convince fans sports are not "pure" and that the leagues have been lucky these stories remained under wraps.
As for my Super Bowl prediction, that came from three sources: myself and what I've learned in the three years of research I've put into this subject, a source who informed me that Billy Walters (supposedly the biggest and best sports gambler in the U.S.) bet $1 to $1.5 million on the Packers on Super Bowl Sunday at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, and another source which I am still developing who has insider information on the NFL. I feel my prediction was pretty accurate. Some have said it resembled a fortune teller's prediction in that it was vague and could be read into, yet at the same time, I didn't say it was going to be the Steelers in a blowout.
For those who are unfamiliar with your work, why exactly should people believe these games are not what they appear and that sports governing bodies influence outcomes? As an example, how would the NFL ever allow the Cardinals, of all franchises, to make a Super Bowl as a 9-7 team?
The sports leagues lie to their fans all the time. My book is loaded with examples of this. So what I ask is, if the leagues are lying to us (with the help of the sports media which never investigates anything for themselves), are they being honest with us regarding game fixing? Can games be fixed? Yes. The mafia and gamblers have proven that to us time and again. So are games being fixed today? I would say yes. Not just for gambling purposes, but by the leagues themselves in order to make their product more interesting to fans.
They can legally do this through referees because referees are league employees. If a league tells its officials "we want these rules enforced, and not these" or "give Kobe and LeBron more room to work and not call fouls on them," those are manipulations of the game and perfectly legal. These commands are also altering the outcomes of games. That's fixing in a nutshell, and it occurs all the time right in front of our eyes.
As for the Cardinals in your example, their run to the Super Bowl became a national story. The NFL likes that. It benefits every team in the league, thanks to revenue sharing (approximately 80% of all revenue in the NFL is shared). The Cardinals just pushed through a new stadium deal (the NFL likes that as well), and were rewarded by hosting a Super Bowl. A year later, the Cardinals played in their first ever Super Bowl (something else the NFL likes to hype - the illusion of parity).
Yet at the same time, in that Super Bowl, the Cardinals were hit with 11 penalties (a Super Bowl record) and watched as their final drive was stolen from them with a questionable fumble call that was never reviewed, even though the league later claimed it was. When did that happen? After the final gun? Why would the NFL let the Cardinals in but then steal a win from them? Because the Steelers are the second most popular team in the NFL and they would sell more merchandise than the Cardinals…which benefits every team in the league thanks to revenue sharing. The Cardinals were a good story, perhaps the best storyline in the NFC playoffs, but in the end, more dollars were to be made with a Steelers' title than with a Cardinals' win.
What do you think of the NBA trades of Carmelo Anthony and Deron Williams to the nation's biggest market?
What's the deal with leagues awarding new teams to whoever builds a league-ready stadium? I'm referring to all the Super Bowls at new stadiums in any area of the country and the NBA's seeming lack of loyalty to supportive markets (Sacramento, Seattle, etc…) among other examples.
To answer both your fourth and fifth questions: if you look at the NFL, MLB, and NHL over the past 40-45 years, you see a wide variety of teams that have either won or at least reached the championship game(s). Not so in the NBA. The Lakers and Celtics have dominated since the 60s with the exception of the Bulls when Jordan ruled in the late 80s-early 90s. Besides the oddity of the Spurs with Tim Duncan, you have to go back to the 70s to find a truly small market team winning a championship in the NBA. Sure the Pistons and Rockets won a couple and the Heat did as well, but all of those teams had something the NBA caters to: big name stars (the Bad Boys, Hakeem & Drexler, and Shaq and D-Wade).
Even so, those are exceptions, not the rule in the NBA. If all you need to win basketball championships is one great player, then you can chuck all of the NBA pundits and their talk of great coaches, sixth men, etc. because its nonsense. You would think a small market team could land a NBA superstar and rise to a championship, but even the Cavs and Lebron failed to do that. Why?
I think it is because the NBA isn't as big of a league as it likes to pretend it is. The Seattles, Portlands, Washingtons, and Milwaukees of the NBA might as well be NHL teams. They are worthless in the grand scheme of things. Which is why the NBA is seriously contemplating contracting. They might as well drop down to an eight team league filled with All-Stars because only the LAs, Bostons, New Yorks, and Chicagos are both money makers and attention getters.
That's why you had the trades you did to get Carmelo into New York and Williams into New Jersey. There's more media attention there for these stars than there is in Denver and Utah. NBA fans should wake up and realize that with a salary cap, some small market NBA owner should be able to make a push and put together a championship team filled with stars if Miami can do it, but it has yet to happen - in 40 years. Again, why?
As for stadium deals, they are a book unto themselves. But you see "rewards" handed out to teams that land new stadiums or relocate all the time. NHL teams like Quebec, Minnesota, and Hartford moved south (as the NHL wanted) and all won Stanley Cups. The Browns ditched the loyal fans of Cleveland and instantly won a Super Bowl. Same goes for the LA Rams when they moved to St. Louis. The Phillies get a new stadium and win a World Series. Same with the Cardinals. These are all just coincidences? Tack on to that the fact that Arizona, Dallas, and New York built new billion dollar NFL stadiums and are given Super Bowls to host, and I think you should realize that new stadiums are money making machines for owners, yet at the same time, momunmental rip-offs for the tax payers forced to fund them.
You've often hinted that NASCAR may be influenced by unseen forces. What do you think of ESPN's Tony Kornhesier source's comment that she feels "60% sure" NASCAR is fixed?
Kornheiser's source was nearly 100% accurrate had Dale Jr not crashed near the end of the Daytona 500. If that didn't happen, and Junior won, where would this story have gone? How embarrassing would it have been for NASCAR, which already is under a cloud for another Junior win at that same track 10 years ago? NASCAR's had the "legend" of The Call since the 1970s. The Call is supposedly made when NASCAR determines one driver/car needs to win for a particular reason (usually money from sponsors). If you can fix a horse race - and Lord knows you can - you can fix an auto race all the same.
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