Art Schlichter

Art Schlichter

NFL player

DateOfBirth=birth date and age|1960|4|25
Birthplace=Bloomingburg, Ohio, United States
College=Ohio State
Retired #s=
years=1982, 1984-1985
teams=Baltimore/Indianapolis Colts
Buffalo Bills
Ottawa Rough Riders
Detroit Drive
Cincinnati Rockers

Arthur Ernest Schlichter (born April 25 1960 in Washington Court House, Ohio) is a former college and professional American football quarterback, perhaps known more for his compulsive gambling and the legal problems that arose from it. His surname is pronounced "SHLEE-ster".

Early life

A native of Bloomingburg, Ohio, Schlichter was a star player at Miami Trace High School. It was there that his gambling habit began with a visit to Scioto Downs, a horse racing track near the Columbus campus of the Ohio State University. It remained his favorite track over the years.cite news |first=Wayne |last=Coffey |title=Art of the steal: The life and crimes of Art Schlichter |url= |work=New York Daily News |date=2006-02-13 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ]

Schlichter was a four-year starter at Ohio State. He was the last starting quarterback for legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes, and was in the lineup when Hayes' infamous punch of Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman in the Gator Bowl ended his coaching career. Schlichter finished in the top 10 of Heisman Trophy balloting during his last three years--4th in his sophomore year, 6th in his junior year and 5th in his senior year. He nearly led the Buckeyes to the national championship in 1979, and left the school as its career leader in total offense.

Even then, however, he was frequently spotted at Scioto Downs with a big-time Ohio gambler. Although the Columbus and Ohio State police departments got suspicious, the athletic department felt it didn't have enough solid evidence to go to the NCAA about the matter. [cite news |first=Janofsky |last=Michael |title=Schlichter: a pattern of gambling that began in his youth|work=New York Times |date=1983-07-10 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ]

Pro career

Schlichter was picked fourth in the 1982 NFL Draft (in the same class that included Jim McMahon of Brigham Young University and Marcus Allen of the University of Southern California) by the Baltimore Colts (who moved to Indianapolis two years later). Expected to be the starter, he lost the job to Mike Pagel, but was expected to be the Colts' quarterback of the future.

His gambling continued unabated; he blew his entire signing bonus by midseason.cite news |first=Scott |last=MacGregor |title=Art Schlichter: Bad bets and wasted talent|url= |work=Cincinnati Enquirer |date=2000-07-02 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ] He also bet on NFL games (though never on Colts games) and charted scores from out-of-town games on which he'd bet when he should have been charting plays. His gambling spiraled out of control during the 1982 NFL strike, when he lost $20,000 on a college football game. [ National Football League - ] ] By the end of the strike, he had at least $700,000 in gambling debts. [ [ Schlichter hoping to capitalize on possibly his final chance to come clean - ] ]

In the winter of 1982 and the spring of 1983, Schlichter lost $389,000 betting on basketball games, and his bookies threatened to expose him if he didn't pay up (the NFL forbids its players from engaging in any kind of gambling activity, legal or otherwise). Schlichter went to the FBI, and his testimony helped get the bookies arrested on federal charges. [cite news |first=Thomas |last=Robert, Jr. |title=Schlichter admits heavy betting losses|work=New York Times |date=1983-04-09 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ] He also sought the help of the NFL because he feared the bookies would force him to throw games in return for not telling the Colts about his activities. The league suspended him indefinitely. Schlichter was the first NFL player to be suspended for gambling since Alex Karras and Paul Hornung were suspended in 1963 for betting on NFL games. [cite news |title=Rozelle suspends Schlichter for bets|work=New York Times |date=1983-04-09 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ]

He was reinstated for the 1984 season, but later admitted that he'd gambled during his suspension (though not on football). He was released five games into the 1985 season in part because the Colts heard he was gambling again. He never played another down in the NFL. He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in the spring of 1986. However, he appeared in only one preseason game, and was cut after Jim Kelly signed what was then the largest contract for an NFL quarterback.

In January 1987, Schlichter was arrested in New York City for his involvement in a multimillion-dollar sports betting operation. [cite news |title=Schlichter arrested in betting inquiry|work=New York Times |date=1987-01-17 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ] He pleaded guilty to illegal gambling in April, and Commissioner Pete Rozelle refused to permit him to sign with another team. He made another bid for reinstatement in 1988, but was turned down. That same year, he filed for bankruptcy to shield himself from creditors.

In parts of three seasons, Schlichter played only 13 games, primarily in backup or "mop-up" roles. He threw 202 passes and completed 91 of them. He amassed a quarterback rating of only 42.6, and is considered one of the biggest draft busts in NFL history.

Schlichter briefly signed a contract with the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League, but was released midway through the season.

He played for the Arena Football League for the Detroit Drive in 1990 and 1991, leading them to a third consecutive league title in 1990 as the league's MVP. He signed with the Cincinnati Rockers in 1992, but was arrested that July for passing a bad check. He admitted suffering a relapse, but the Rockers were willing to stand by him. They worked out a deal with Schlichter in which they put most of his paycheck into an account to pay his gambling debts, except for $300 which they gave to his wife, Mitzi. [cite news |title=Schlichter Admits Gambling Relapse|work=New York Times |date=1992-07-12 |accessdate=2007-08-18 ] However, he announced he wouldn't return to the team in 1993, intending instead to focus on curing his gambling addiction.

He hosted a radio sports talk show in Cincinnati during the early 1990s, and appeared on "The Phil Donahue Show", talking about his addiction.

Extent of addiction

Over the years, Schlichter has, by his own count, committed over 20 felonies [] . He gambled away much of his NFL, AFL and radio salaries. Whenever he ran low on money to support his gambling, he stole and conned it from friends and strangers, and frequently passed bad checks. In an interview for ESPN's "Outside the Lines," he estimated that he'd stolen $1.5 million over the years, if not more.

The habit eventually cost him his marriage; his wife left him in 1994 after FBI agents raided their home in Las Vegas in search of money he'd stolen. According to her, Schlichter gambled it away.

Between 1995 and 2006, he served the equivalent of 10 years in 44 various prisons and jails across the Midwest. His various legal problems, including fraud cases and forgery, among others, were often well-publicized. For example, he was so consumed by his habit that he had his public defender smuggle a cell phone into prison so he could place bets.

He later said that he hit rock bottom in 2004, after he was caught gambling in prison. He was placed in solitary confinement for four months. []

He was most recently released from prison on June 16, 2006 [] . He is currently residing with his mother in Indiana. By one estimate, he owes half a million dollars in restitution.

Schlichter has founded a non-profit organization, Gambling Prevention Awareness, to educate others about the perils of compulsive gambling, including college and NFL players. He told ESPN that he started gambling because the pressure of being Ohio State's starting quarterback was too much on him, and he wanted to be just a regular guy. However, at least one of Schlichter's prosecutors felt that his foundation is just another way for him to obtain money to fuel his addiction.

Gambling Prevention Awareness [4] is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization with an independent board of directors. Art Schlichter has no access to the contributions made to this organization.


External links

* [ Gambling Prevention Awareness] , Schlichter's organization
* [ Art Schlichter Arena Football Statistics]

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