Tony Romo CBS Screen grab: CBS

In case you somehow haven’t heard, Super Bowl LVIII will take place in Las Vegas on Sunday.

But the NFL didn’t need to take its biggest event to Sin City for gambling’s influence on the league to be made apparent.

Between commercials for sportsbooks and daily fantasy sports apps being omnipresent on broadcasts to the league even having its own gambling-related sponsorship deals — not to mention the Raiders moving from Oakland to Las Vegas — it’s impossible to watch an NFL game nowadays without feeling the presence of sports betting. But while discussion of betting odds are largely absent from the actual broadcasts — save for the occasional Al Michaels reference — it seems like only a matter of time before that changes too.

Ahead of calling the big game, the CBS broadcasting crew of Jim Nantz, Tony Romo and Tracy Wolfson sat down with The Athletic’s Richard Deitsch for a wide-ranging Q&A. And when it came to the topic of potentially discussing gambling-related content on broadcasts, all three expressed concerns, with Romo offering the harshest critique of sports betting’s influence on the game.

“To me, it’s like a slippery slope,” the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback said. “I grew up where we never talked about or thought about lines or anything like that in football. The angle that I try to communicate to the audience is how to win this game for this team, or not to lose it in some cases.

“But once you start going into that world, it strikes me as you’ve got to be great at two things. Now you’re affecting people’s lives with what you’re saying in some way. It just makes it feel less pure and less like the stuff that you grew up on.”

Meanwhile, Nantz made it clear that he’s also not in favor of discussing gambling on air, stating that he cringes when he hears colleagues who are required to do so in golf. Still, the longtime broadcaster admitted that it’s inevitable he’ll likely have to do the same sooner rather than later.

“The idea that it becomes commonplace in the broadcast? I give it 2 1/2 years,” Nantz said. “But I’m pulling for the over.”

Wolfson, for what it’s worth, admitted that she doesn’t know much about sports betting but said that it’s something she’s more than willing to study if it’s what her job calls for.

While it’s not necessarily surprising that veteran broadcasters would be adverse to making such a shift, Romo is likely overstating how much would actually change — at least for him. It’s hard to imagine that CBS (or any other network) would encourage him to provide input from a gambling perspective. Rather, he and Nantz would likely be occasionally referencing point spreads and totals.

Considering how many people do bet on football — Sports Business Journal reports that 42 million Americans plan on using an online sportsbook to wager on the Super Bowl this year — gambling is more than just the elephant in the room and it makes sense that it would be acknowledged as such. At the same time, it’s understandable why Romo would be hesitant to blur the lines regarding the NFL’s relationship with the sports betting industry more than they already are.

[The Athletic]

About Ben Axelrod

Ben Axelrod is a veteran of the sports media landscape, having most recently worked for NBC's Cleveland affiliate, WKYC. Prior to his time in Cleveland, he covered Ohio State football and the Big Ten for outlets including Cox Media Group, Bleacher Report, Scout and Rivals.