Gambling has always been in my blood. My grandfather, who passed before I was born and for whom I am named, was on the phone with his bookie most days. He would have preferred to be at the track but knew his emotions would get the better of him there and cause him to make irrational gambling decisions.
When I was growing up, my mom routinely told me stories about him at the track and the few-and-far-between times he brought home money for the family from a big win.
Playing in the NFL Is a Form of Gambling
While I didn’t gamble on sports until I retired from the NFL, I routinely bet on myself during my career with my contracts. After spending the first four years of my career with the Panthers, I received two-year contract offers from three teams in 2012. Coming off a season in which I didn’t play a snap due to injury, I realized that a two-year deal would provide me with some security as I recovered from my hip surgeries, but I opted instead to bet on myself, sign a one-year deal and hope to earn a bigger contract in 2013.
That didn’t really work out. I signed with the Vikings, and although the offensive line I was a part of paved the way for running back Adrian Peterson‘s 2,097-yard rushing campaign, I started no games and didn’t play that well when I was on the field.
Doubling Down on Myself
Heading into 2013, I had little interest for weeks until the Chiefs called. I again had the option to sign a two-year contract, which the Chiefs wanted, because it would’ve given them control for a second season and also allowed them to spread out the signing bonus (although my bonus wasn’t much). Again, I decided to bet on myself by signing a one-year deal. This time, it paid off.
I played in all 16 games and started seven at guard in head coach Andy Reid’s first Kansas City season, when the team jumped from 2-14 to 11-5 and made the playoffs. It was a great year for the team and also for me. Per Pro Football Focus, I entered free agency as the top guard in the market.
In the offseason, my bet paid off when I signed a four-year contract with the New York Giants.
Until I retired, I never cared about the gambling lines. There was never any talk about it in the locker room, although we always knew if we were the underdogs because the coaches would use that information to try to motivate us, and sometimes the media would mention it while asking questions about the upcoming matchup.
But when I was in the league I never felt the need to check lines. My job was to prepare to win regardless of whether we were favored. To me, it didn’t matter if the betting market expected us to win or lose. I always expected us to win.
Post-NFL Gambling Career
When I was released by the Lions on Aug. 29, 2016, I was still preparing each day to play: Working out, eating right and just hoping for a call. As the season progressed, eventually I felt the itch still to have some skin in the game, so I started to research the basics of gambling. At first I focused just on football, and I started to write down a few picks each week, just for fun.
When the season ended and I knew I was finished playing, I started to gamble for the 2016-17 College Football Playoff and the NFL Playoffs. I crushed both, and I was hooked. Last season I gambled weekly on football, and while I didn’t have the same success, I still had a blast. I enjoyed the thrill of waiting out the end of each game to see if my $5 bet had cashed. Even the small-stakes sweats feel real.
To Football and Beyond
I’m not an expert gambler, but I enjoy learning about the process. I’m also competitive, so I enjoy putting a few bucks down on sporting events daily. Betting regularly has forced me to pay attention to more baseball than I normally would this time of the season, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed it.
Also, the tools and resources across The Action Network have helped me streamline my betting research and process from The Action App to the BetLabs database to the FantasyLabs props tool. Access to all of this information has made it easy to learn the ins and outs of the business.
I’m so pumped to be a part of the crew heading into football season.