Football’s a pretty intense game. Sometimes it’s not easy for players to come out of competitive mode and get their kicks elsewhere. While Tom Brady and Alvin Kamara have been spotted on the slopes, skiing often falls under ‘prohibited activities’ in an NFL contract as franchises fear injury to stars. Worse still – from the player’s point of view – the NFL last year clarified that scrapes sustained outside of a team’s official programs must be regarded as ‘non-football injuries’ and franchises are under no obligation to pay the player while they recuperate.
Can Tom Brady have a provision for being allowed to ski written into his contract? Probably. But for most players, it may mean other sports being put on the back burner until retirement in favor of less physically arduous pursuits. Poker is one way of keeping the adrenaline going without putting the body on the line, and many players are as adept on blue felt as on green turf. Is the quarterback quartered? Does the kicker have a prime kicker? Let’s have a look at three aces.
Antoine Winfield Sr
While Vegas has only had a team since 2020, football players have been seen in Sin City for a lot longer than that. Cornerback Antoine Winfield enjoyed a star-studded career, making the Pro Bowl three times, and earning his place as one of the 50 Greatest Minnesota Vikings. These days, the native Texan is a regular at the tables for the World Series Of Poker Finals and scooped $1,500 in a No Limit Texas Hold ’em event.
We’d be tempted to think he may have just been coming to Vegas to defrost from the icy Minneapolis air, but given he can now cheer on his son from the stands of the Raymond James Stadium – Winfield Jr is a defensive back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – it’s safe to say he loves the game.
At 6’8 and 307lbs, it’s likely you’d rather see Calais Campbell across a poker table from you than the line of scrimmage. However, that might be a tougher call than first imagined. The Baltimore Ravens tackle has made clear his ambition runs not only to a Super Bowl ring on his finger but a WSOP bracelet on his wrist. Campbell, who has been a success on the World Poker Tour, said, “I want to win the WSOP main event. It’s a tough thing that very few people have done, but I feel like, why not? If it can be done, why not me?”
Poker and football share similarities. The average NFL game lasts 3 hours and 12 minutes, with just 18 minutes of actual play time – there’s a lot of sitting around on the sidelines. Likewise, in poker, playing every hand dealt only ever leads to being off the table fairly quickly; it’s very much a case of timing your moment. Campbell has the number of many NFL quarterbacks – he sacked poor old Carson Wentz three times in a single game in Week 6, 2020 – let’s see if he can get the number of poker’s big shot-callers.
Seymour didn’t wait til Vegas until he became a Raider. Raised in South Carolina and schooled in Georgia, he already had two football hotbeds checked off before Oakland made him the league’s highest-paid defenseman in a 2011 two-year $30m deal. His poker earnings aren’t to be sniffed at, either. Seymour has featured (and cashed) at the WSOP, Mid-States Poker Tour and World Poker Tour, taking 18th place and over $52k in prize money from the 2017 WPT Five Diamond World Poker Classic. 2022 saw Seymour take his seat in Canton, OH, as part of the Pro Football Hall Of Fame, after winning three Super Bowls as part of the Patriots’ all-conquering early 2000s side. He never played for the Arizona Cardinals. But he can certainly play the cards now.