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Roger Goodell tries to reconcile the NFL's embrace of sports betting

The NFL hated gambling until it loved it. And the NFL is still trying to reconcile its prior position on gambling with its current effort to grab every last dollar.

The issue came up on Friday, when Commissioner Roger Goodell appeared with Pat McAfee and crew.

At one point, Darius Butler asked Goodell "how much louder" it's gotten for 345 Park Avenue with sports betting being legalized and people complaining about officiating and games being scripted. (An excellent question.)

"I haven't felt that at all," Goodell said.

If Goodell hasn't felt it, he has kept his fingers buried deep in his pockets. The tinfoil-hat crowd has been energized by sports betting, with any and all irregularities being met with cries that "the fix is in." We hear it ALL THE TIME.

And that's exactly what the league feared. Here's what Goodell said in 2012, when the NFL was fighting the fight against the legalization of sports betting: "If gambling is permitted freely on sporting events, normal incidents of the game such as bad snaps, dropped passes, turnovers, penalties, and play calling inevitably will fuel speculation, distrust, and accusations of point-shaving or game-fixing."

Goodell was asked to reconcile his words with the league's current sportsbook cash grab during his invitation-only/bring-me-the-broomstick-of-the-witch-of-the-west Super Bowl press conference. He has since come up with a new talking point to justify the NFL's embrace of legalized wagering, after hating it for so long.

"We didn't support making it legal," Goodell said. "The Supreme Court made the decision. We've got to adjust to that. And when we did, you do have to be partnering with some of these partners, because they actually give us access to information that can detect something before it really becomes a problem. And so we get a lot of information by being involved there. People think that's, you know, conflicting with our previous position but we just have to adjust to whatever the law is. That's the way it works."

That's not the way it works. That's the way the NFL has decided to make it work. Because that approach not only creates a tattletale hotline from the sportsbooks to the league but also allows the ultra-rich to get ultra-richer.

From the sponsorships to the sale of data to the dirty little open secret of owners being allowed to own up to five percent of a company that operates a sportsbook (the league has refused to disclose which owners own pieces of which sportsbooks), it's always about the money.

The NFL could have continued to take a hard line against gambling. No betting allowed, by anyone at any time. No sponsorships. No data. No commercials. No equity positions. Aggressive efforts to get fans to shun the get-rich-quick pipe dreams that inevitably end up being a tax on the poor and/or stupid.

Yes, trading stocks is a form of gambling, but you can make money that way because it's not an inherently rigged system. Gambling, when the odds and lines are set properly, is.

The idea that the NFL is doing what it's doing to simply have an easier path to catching players who break the rules is laughable. The NFL and the owners saw an opening to make even more money by aligning with the house.

Once sports betting became legal, the NFL's epiphany wasn't that it needs to align with sportsbooks because that will help the league catch rule breakers. The epiphany was far simpler than that.

One, the house always wins.

Two, we can be the house.