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Can The NFL Legally Fix Games? The Legality Of Game Fixing

The NFL is one of the most popular and widely watched sports leagues in the United States. It is known for its intense competition, passionate fans, and thrilling games. 

However, there have been occasional rumors and speculation about the possibility of the NFL fixing games for various reasons. 

While these claims may capture the attention of fans and media outlets, it is essential to examine whether the NFL has the legal authority to manipulate game outcomes. 

Through our comprehensive examination of the league’s rules, regulations, and the potential consequences of game-fixing, we will shed light on this controversial subject.

Can The NFL Legally Fix Games?

This is a tricky question for sure, but here is the best answer our research has yielded. Yes, the NFL can legally fix its games with no legal liabilities, and this is because they fall under ‘sports entertainment’ and not real sport.

While it is difficult to fix the games because of the many people involved, and they may not want to do it openly, they still can fix the games as the anti-trust exemption covers them. 

The NFL Is A Sports Entertainment Company!

In a 2010 lawsuit involving licensed merchandise such as caps and t-shirts, the NFL contended that it should be treated as a unified entity rather than as 32 separate franchises. 

The NFL argued that it falls under a “sports entertainment” company category rather than real sports, such as college football. 

The only other examples of “sports entertainment” businesses are professional wrestling (WWE) and roller derby. 

During the trial, NFL Lawyer Gregg H. Levy emphasized that as long as the NFL clubs function as a collective unit within the entertainment industry, they should be classified as a single entity and exempt from antitrust laws.

In fact, there is a popular argument that the NFL possesses an anti-trust exemption, which John F. Kennedy

Some argue that this exemption serves as an additional protective measure that enables the NFL to potentially manipulate the outcomes of games.

Scripted Games Do Not Violate Federal Laws

The Sports Bribery Act of 1964 aimed to address the issue of organized crime and the gambling industry’s influence on sports. 

According to the act, anyone involved in a scheme to bribe a sporting contest intending to influence its outcome, either by carrying out the scheme, attempting to do so, or conspiring with others, can be fined or imprisoned for up to 5 years. 

The act does not consider it a violation if a league instructs an employee to influence a game, nor does it apply if a referee or player independently decides to manipulate a game by altering the score or outcome.

It’s All A Show!

Regardless of your opinion, whether you think the games are rigged, scripted, or biased towards popular teams, one thing is clear: the NFL knows how to create an engaging and captivating live show during the Super Bowl that attracts millions of viewers. 

Close games add to the excitement and drama, making them more appealing to viewers who enjoy placing bets. 

The NFL and its gambling partners rely on the large audience and the bets placed on these games. 

Interestingly, the score lines in Super Bowls have become much closer than the games before and after the 9/11 incident.   

In the 1 – 35 Super Bowls, only 9 games were decided by a touchdown or less, and just 2 games were decided by a single field goal or less. The average winning margin was 16.7 points, equivalent to more than 2 touchdowns. 

However, in Super Bowls 36-51, an astonishing 10 out of 16 games were decided by a single touchdown or less, with 5 games being decided by a field goal or less. The average winning margin decreased to 8.7 points.   

Surprisingly, over 70% of all games are determined by the final possession, meaning that the outcome often swings in favor of or against the betting line. 

The accuracy of these lines is such that bettors frequently experience fluctuations between winning and losing based on the events of the final possession.

It has almost become the norm to witness games being won in the last couple of minutes, particularly in high-stakes matches.

Ex-NFL Players Reveal the Truth: It’s All Part of the Show

Occasionally, a former player who hasn’t agreed to confidentiality terms with the NFL speaks out and confirms what many of us have long suspected.

The following are statements from players who have firsthand experience with the culture and reality of the NFL.

  1. Earl Campbell – “And we all know, now that we’re grown men, that wrestling’s fake. Well, football is not played like it was when I played.” 
  1. Benny Cunningham -”The NFL is scripted, but they make us sign something, so we can’t go into detail…Tired of holding back…Who wants the full story?” 
  1. Chris Borland – “[The NFL is] like a spectacle of violence, for entertainment, and you’re the actors in it. You’re complicit in that: You put on the uniform. And it’s a trivial thing at its core. It’s make-believe. That’s the truth about it.”  
  1. Joe Thomas – “We’re talking about a different NFL now … before it was more about the game. Now, it’s such an entertainment business. It’s turning into the WWE. It’s like the Vince McMahon stuff. Basically, [Roger] Goodell is like Vince McMahon.” 

The NFL Has A Strong Connection With The World Of Gambling

The NFL expressed concerns less than ten years ago that the legalization of sports gambling would increase doubts about the integrity of the game and reinforce the perception of games being fixed. 

However, in recent years, the NFL has formed partnerships with various betting companies, gambling partners, and casinos, indicating its close association with the gambling industry. 

This close connection to gambling has led to skepticism among fans, who see questionable calls, plays, and game outcomes as evidence of corruption and collusion among officials. It’s understandable why fans feel this way, given the strong influence of gambling on the sport.

Top NFL Games That Were Allegedly Rigged

NFL fans who are deeply invested in the sport, particularly when money is at stake, usually have remarkable knowledge and observation. 

They can quickly identify instances in games or seasons where certain events should not have occurred under normal circumstances. 

The following are examples of games that have been subject to speculation of potential manipulation.

1. Super Bowl XLIV: New Orleans Saints vs. Indianapolis Colts

When Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans, it left a trail of destruction, claiming the lives of almost 2,000 people. The city was left devastated, in desperate need of a glimmer of hope. 

That glimmer arrived when the New Orleans Saints achieved the seemingly impossible by defeating the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl against tremendous odds. Was there more to the story than meets the eye?

2. Super Bowl XXXVI: New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams

After the tragic events 9/11, the American people were grappling with immense pain and the need for a renewed sense of patriotism. 

In this context, the New England Patriots emerged as a symbol of national pride. Against all odds, they secured a surprising victory in the Super Bowl by defeating the heavily favored St. Louis Rams with a score of 20-17. 

3. Super Bowl III: New York Jets vs. Baltimore Colts 1969

This historic football game stands as one of the most remarkable upsets in the sport’s history, and it played a significant role in shaping the modern-day NFL. 

The outcome of the AFL-NFL merger hung in the balance, and the NFL couldn’t afford to let the heavily favored Colts (16-1) emerge victorious. A Jets win would generate billions of dollars for the NFL owners. 

Against all odds, Jets quarterback Joe Namath considered a massive underdog, confidently proclaimed that his team would defeat the highly regarded Colts. The fans couldn’t have anticipated what followed. 

The Jets not only triumphed over the Colts with a score of 16-7, but Namath was named the game’s MVP. In his victory speech, Namath proudly declared that the team had silenced their critics, who had predicted a crushing defeat of 42-13. 


Whether the NFL can legally fix games remains a topic of debate and speculation. While there have been instances of corruption and illegal activities in sports, there is no concrete evidence to suggest that the NFL engages in game-fixing. 

The league has implemented strict rules and regulations to ensure fair play and maintain the integrity of the sport. 

The NFL also faces scrutiny from fans, media, and regulatory bodies, making it difficult for illegal activities to go unnoticed or unpunished. 

Until substantial evidence is presented, it is safe to assume that the NFL operates within the boundaries of the law and strives to maintain a fair and competitive environment for all teams and players.