Points-shaving. First, a definition:
The illegal practice of deliberately limiting the number of points scored by one's team in an athletic contest, as in return for a payment from gamblers to ensure winnings.
This is exactly what Toledo running back Harvey "Scooter" McDougle has been charged with by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, according to the Detroit News. The News broke the story on Saturday. The basics, according to both the News and noted secondary sources:
--McDougle was given a car, cash, and other benefits in exchange for shaving points off certain Toledo games by Gary Manni, a man only identified as "Gary" in the first News report. He was to recruit other players, as well, including other football players and basketball players. (You know, like Amway does, but with the FBI taking a vested interest in your "contacts." )
--In turn, McDougle offered at least one other player $10,000 to sit out a game.
Your team...for just $10,000 a game?
--Manni, labeled "a professional gambler" in a subsequent report, admits knowing McDougle, but says he had nothing to do with point-shaving.
The funniest two pieces of information come from that second article, a piece in the manfully-named Toledo Blade. (You know it's a rough town when even the paper is named "the Blade.")
"Yes, I know him," said Mr. Manni, 50, when reached by phone at King Cole Foods, a grocery store in Detroit.
Either Manni owns the grocery store, or you may take comfort that we live in a world where heavies still hang out by pay phones in cash-laundering business fronts like grocery stores.
...(Manni) doesn’t know why authorities were listening to his phone conversations with players.
Manni is an Iraqi immigrant who came to the United States 30 years ago--of course the FBI listening to his phone conversations. We're pretty sure they're listening to ours after we put Lawrence of Arabia and 24 on our Netflix queue a few weeks ago. Our conspiracy theory on this: the FBI was randomly tapping lines belonging to anyone who made calls into Iraq from the United States, heard some interesting and completely non-terror related stuff on Manni's, and got a points-shaving case out of the Patriot Act. Score one for John Yoo!
We have theories. Important ones.
--Fanblogs speculates this could cast a wide net into a pool of former and current Toledo players, including former Rockets qb and current NFLer Bruce Gradkowski.
Our final note for the moment, before assessing points: Manni sounds like one of the stupidest gamblers we've ever, ever heard of if he truly decided to try to fix football games by contacting the fourth-string running back as his recruiter. If we were points-shaving, there's two guys to bribe: the kicker and the quarterback. Running back is at least third on our list of guys who can directly affect the point total in a game. Plus the kicker's got no pro money on the line to keep him honest. Manni's scheme seems equal parts nefarious and harebrained--there's simply too many moving parts to make an effective fix in football.
As heinous a crime as it is, it's no murder, the only 5 point offense in the Fulmer Cup. It is in our estimation a weighty 4 pointer, rife with ill intentions, skullduggery, and shitbaggedness. But it's no murder. For the moment, the Fulmer Cup score for Toledo stands at 4, though it could in theory get much, much worse before the FBI stops digging.