The NFL is no stranger to the game of poker. While the relationship is not as close as in other sports leagues, there are plenty of players who have retired from the gridiron and taken a seat at the table, and quite a few who are currently active in both areas. And there are probably countless Dolphins fans throughout the US regularly hosting home games on their Miami Dolphins branded pub tables during the major matches of the season.
While live poker games will always attract sports players and celebrities, there’s a new breed of poker that celebs like Jennifer Tilly, A-Rod, and Don Cheadle are going crazy for – online poker. Ok, so it’s not exactly new, having originated at the turn of the century, but it rises in popularity every year and has now reached the upper echelons of society.
In 2020, professional online poker tournaments are held in the same regard as live tournaments like the WSOP, and the online game is enjoyed by newbies and pros alike. There’s an abundance of online platforms and sites catering to players of all levels that are a hit with sports players and celebrities alike – and they could end up being preferred by Dolphins stars since they offer that all-important anonymity.
Now that we’re all dealing with the fallout of potential disruptions to the start of the 2020 NFL season, which is due to get underway early this month, we thought it would be fun to take a guess at which NFL players (and their League cohorts) we might see gathering around virtual gaming tables.
Evan Mathis – Miami Dolphins
A former Offensive Guard for the Dolphins, Mathis was first drafted into the NFL by the Carolina Panthers in 2005. He was signed to the Dolphins in September 2008 and released just two months later after playing a total of seven games (he was signed at a time when Donald Thomas was placed on injured reserve). He’s also played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Denver Broncos, and Philadelphia Eagles, and has become an avid poker player having recently finished in 35th place in the global PSPC Players’ Championship.
Sammy Watkins – Kansas City Chiefs
This fourth overall pick for the Buffalo Bills in the 2014 NFL Draft, Watkins has played for the Los Angeles Rams before settling in as the wide receiver for the Chiefs. His love for the game of poker is well known, and has even got him into a spot of bother with his former team.
During the 2016 offseason, a time when players are expected to continue their training and set game strategies with their coaches, Watkins decided to hot foot it to North Carolina to spend the time playing poker games with his college teammates. He even took to social media to boast about his poker prowess, which is what got him in hot water with his team.
Anthony Francis – Miami Dolphins
The former defensive tackle for the Dolphins has had quite the NFL career, having also taken defensive positions in teams including the New England Patriots, New York Giants, Washington Redskins and Tampa Bay Buccaneers – all of which were possible due to being signed by the Dolphins as an undrafted free agent in 2013. But he’s since reinvented himself into quite the renaissance man.
Francis, aka the recording artist FRAN¢, is now a professional wrestler under the WWE banner and a major poker enthusiast. He’s participated in numerous poker tournaments alongside other celebrity players, including the 2017 Hurricane Irma Relief event, where he made it to the seventh round. Other former NFL players who we can imagine filling up online poker tables in 2020 include Calais Campbell, Emmitt Smith, Shannon Sharpe, and Richard Seymour.
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