Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols

By Stanley H. Teitelbaum | Go to book overview

4. Football Gambling Scandals

All the conning that I did, I didn’t do all this so I could have fancy cars, big
houses, mink coats, or eat at expensive restaurants. I did it to feed an ad-
diction. I could have bought 100 Mercedes with the money I’ve blown.

Art Schlichter in Jeff Benedict and Don Yaeger, Pros and Cons: The Criminals
Who Play in the NFL


The Early Years of Professional Football

Professional football stands out as being free from gambling for the past two decades, during which football has become the most popular spectator sport in America. In the checkered earlier history of the game, however, several high-profile players were involved in gambling scandals that could have destroyed the appeal of the sport.

Before the television era and the prominence now given this sport, when the National Football League consisted of only ten teams divided into East and West divisions, a major scandal threatened to destroy the league. There were no playoffs then, only an eleven-game regular season culminating in a championship game between the division leaders. The All American Conference, launched in 1946, had not yet attained parity with the NFL, and the Super Bowl between champions of rival conferences did not begin until 1967.

On December 15, 1946, the night before the championship showdown between the New York Giants and the Chicago Bears, two of the Giants’ key players—quarterback Frank Filchock and fullback Merle Hapes—were questioned about an allegation that they had been offered a bribe to throw the game. The investigation determined that a small-time gambler named Alvin Paris who socialized with Filchock and Hapes had repeatedly offered each player a payoff of $2,500 and a $1,000 bet on the Bears if they would help throw the championship game. The police had tapped Paris’s phone because they suspected his home was a bookmaking establishment. Though they learned that both players had turned down the bribe, neither had reported the attempt to team officials or to the police. This event was the biggest scandal

-58-

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Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Sports Heroes, Fallen Idols iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Introduction xi
  • 1. the Need for Heroes 1
  • 2. the Psyche of the Athlete 17
  • 3. Baseball Gambling Scandals 33
  • 4. Football Gambling Scandals 58
  • 5. Basketball Gambling Scandals 69
  • 6. Self-Destructive Athletes 101
  • 7. Athletes and Violence toward Women 138
  • 8. Athletes and Murder 178
  • 9. Violence between Athletes 197
  • 10. Athletes’ Mental Health Problems 220
  • Epilogue 240
  • Notes 249
  • Index 265
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