Is The NFL Rigged? The Ugly Truth In American Football

Match-fixing is not a new occurrence in sports around the world. Accusations of rigging in favor of one team have been leveled at the NFL. 

Even though football is the most popular sport in the United States, it has been marred by controversy and conspiracies. 

Some football fans believe capitalists have infiltrated this sacred sport with no love for the game.

Whether all these indictments are valid or not is what we want to know. Is there more to the sport than sportsmanship? 

Are there real answers, or is this just another rabbit hole? This article explores the NFL behind the glitz and glam.

Is The NFL Rigged? 

The bar has been set against the NFL, no matter how hard we try to defend it. The NFL is, without a doubt, rigged. The NFL is a for-profit organization, and for-profit organizations want to make money. 

The rigged matches are usually high-stakes affairs with prize pools in the millions, if not billions, of dollars. The referees, officials, and even some players are on the match-fixing. The winning or losing team will depend on the fan base and playing field.

How Does The NFL Make Money?

The NFL is one of the most successful sports ventures in US history. It enjoys a large fan base that significantly contributes to each year’s revenue. 

They are estimated to make over $8 billion annually. A good example was 2017, when they made $12 billion. 

The NFL has two earning streams: National revenue and local revenue. Both play a part in the total amount of money generated, but the national revenue brings in the bulk of the cash.

National Revenue

That is revenue generated By negotiating with TV stations on a national level. The league gets to decide who shows what and at what prices. 

The national revenue is used to pay the 32 teams part of the NFL. Each team gets an equal share of the money despite their performance.

In 2021 the NFL raked in a whopping $9.8 billion in national revenue. Divided among the 32 teams, this would amount to $310 million each. 

That is a lot of money by any standard, and the big players would like to keep the money coming where you are the boss, player, or referee.

Local Revenue

The local earnings are brought in by ticket sales, selling merchandise, and sponsorship from corporate entities. Local revenue movies are shared between individual teams that are playing locally. 

That means that other teams benefit more than others, depending on the sponsors, ticket sales, and merchandise sold. Still, the revenue is high enough to keep the teams and The NFL in wanting more.

How Does Rigging Benefit The NFL?

In 2019 the national football league made $15 billion in revenue. The current NFL commissioner, Roger Goodell, was so optimistic of prospects that he estimated a revenue increase of more than 10 billion by 2027. 

Money is the name of the game, and if they can find a way to increase their income, why not do it? Rigging works by increasing the interest of the fans in the game. If they can influence the game and create nonexistent hostility, they will generate more revenue.

Ticket sales

Supporters of each will buy more merchandise and tickets in support of their teams, believed their teams were denied an opportunity by a rigged system and those who stand by the prowess of their winning team. 

Either way, the money keeps coming as long as emotions run high. That is true in high stake games. 

That means teams that are plausible to host the Super Bowl will be ‘pushed’ to win. This way, they will fill the stadiums, and the tickets will be available.

Skyrocketing tv ratings

As stated before, TVs are why the national revenue carries the bulk of revenues. Riding on commercials and overall ratings, the play on human emotions keeps those who didn’t make it to the stadium glued to their TVs—the more the viewers, the more sponsors, and advertisements. 

Advertisers pay millions to get a 30-second advert in a Superbowl game. That means more money for the NFL.

Does Betting Have A Role To Play?

Unfortunately, Betting also plays a significant role in this conspiracy laded game. It’s not a secret, nor is it a new phenomenon in the NFL. The betting world has tried and squashed attempts to infiltrate the game in a few cases. 

However, their attempts have not been as successful as they like us to believe.

A throwback to 1962 puts us at crossroads with Betting and rigging. WE’RE SUSPENDED AS an MVP and a linebacker for engaging in betting activities. 

Green Bay Packers Paul Hornung and Alex Karras and the Detroit Lions’ Paul Hornung and Alex Karras have been convicted of gambling and suspended for the upcoming football season. 

Alex Karras didn’t stop there; he also wagered a game between the Giants and the Packers. Despite the suspension, this was the case. That makes you pause for a moment. That makes you think for a while.

The bases have also been caught in gambling rackets in the NFL. At least three major team bosses were either called out for their gambling problems or forced to sell their teams to settle gambling debts.

A case in point is the former owner of the Eagles, Leonard Tose. He was so caught up in gambling that he had to sell off the team to settle debts. Another case is Eddie De Bartolo Jr. He was almost arrested for payoffs and corruption. 

These cases prove that gambling is at the center of the fighting claims. There is no way that players and team owners can risk it all without knowing the outcome of the play. At least we can confirm that these actions influence the way teams will play. 

That has not spared the young football stars in college, but that is a theory for mother time.

Topmost Rigged Games In NFL History

There are moments in history that leave most football fans with an ad taste in their mouth as far as rigging is concerned. 

Super Bowl XXXVI

The game was skewed in favor of the New England Patriots, but most fans will agree that it was not a protest moment for the NFL. It is alleged that the patriots made a recording of their opponent, the St Louis Rams. 

Although it was never confirmed, it is curious how the player knew the gameplay of their opponents.

Super Bowl XXV

That was another sad depiction of just how rigging has dug its claws in the NFL. The Buffalo bill had made superb plays and preferred to make it to the finals. However, the kicker, Scott Norwood, made the game. 

It was a sure deal, but the suspicious miss led the fan base to question the loss by the team. 

Super Bowl III

Conspiracy theorists believe that they fixed the game to put the New York Jets in a favorable position in the NFL and cement a merger between AFL and the NFL that was in the works. Whether this is true or not is kind of suspicious.

Effects of NFL Rigging

NFL bosses are too fixed on making a profit to understand the repercussions. Fighting affects more than just the fans; it affects the quality of sportsmanship.


One of the adverse effects of weighing is the quality of refereeing and referees. If the person being paid to overlook the players in the field doesn’t do his work, there is no game.

There is no point in a referee’s presence on the field if he is paid extra to overlook misconduct on the field. It’s pointless to train for such a position. As a result, there is a general lack of sportsmanship and the spirit of the game.


Players will not be motivated enough to make a difference for their team. A good example is betting. If betting companies approach a team or a player to throw the game, the ripple effect is too much to bear. 

Families go into debt, players lose their integrity, and the whole sport loses meaning. Betting companies make a killing on the other end. The NFL makes money either way.

The fans are too invested in questioning the running of the league. That has killed professionalism in the game, and it shows in every match.


The NFL is not just a sports league in the US. They entertain millions in the stadiums and at home. However, the rigging claims have marred the way they viewed them in the past. Although it does not reflect in revenues, most fans are unsatisfied.

It is only a matter of time before this pricking time bomb rears its ugly head. In any sport, integrity is critical. Otherwise, sports lose sportsmanship and the spirit of healthy competition.

John Taylor
John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!


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