Art Schlichter: Wikis


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Art Schlichter
Jersey #(s)
Born April 25, 1960 (1960-04-25) (age 49)
Washington Court House, Ohio
Career information
Year(s) 19821992
NFL Draft 1982 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
College Ohio State
Professional teams
Career stats
TD-INT 3-11
Yards 1,006
QB Rating 42.6
Stats at
Career highlights and awards

Arthur Ernest Schlichter (born April 25, 1960, in Washington Court House, Ohio) is a former college and professional American football quarterback, sometimes known 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 at Miami Trace High School, when his gambling habit began with a visit to Scioto Downs, a horse racing track near the Columbus campus of Ohio State University. It remained his favorite track over the years.[1]

Schlichter was a four-year starter at Ohio State. He was the last starting quarterback for Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes, and threw the interception that lost the game and led to Hayes' assault on Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl that ended his coaching career. Schlichter finished in the top six of Heisman Trophy balloting during his last three years—fourth in his sophomore year, sixth as a junior and fifth 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.

During his college career, he was frequently spotted at Scioto Downs with a big-time Ohio gambler. Although the Columbus and OSU police departments got suspicious, the athletic department felt it lacked enough solid evidence to go to the NCAA about the matter.[2] It was well known that he went to the track with head coach Earle Bruce, a fact which helped cover up early problems emerging while Schlichter was at Ohio State.[1]

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.[3] 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.[3] His gambling spiraled out of control during the 1982 NFL strike, when he lost $20,000 on a college football game.[4] By the end of the strike, he had at least $700,000 in gambling debts.[5]

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.[6] 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.[4] 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.[7]

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.[4] He never played another meaningful down. 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.[8] 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.[3]

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.[9] 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. [1] 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 a 2007 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. [2]

He was most recently released from prison on June 16, 2006. [3] He is currently residing with his mother in Washington Court House, Ohio. 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.

In late 2009, Schlichter and his mother appeared in TV ads opposing an Ohio casino statewide ballot issue.


  1. ^ a b Coffey, Wayne (2006-02-13). "Art of the steal: The life and crimes of Art Schlichter". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  2. ^ Michael, Janofsky (1983-07-10). "Schlichter: a pattern of gambling that began in his youth". New York Times. 
  3. ^ a b c MacGregor, Scott (2000-07-02). "Art Schlichter: Bad bets and wasted talent". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2007-08-18. 
  4. ^ a b c National Football League -
  5. ^ Schlichter hoping to capitalize on possibly his final chance to come clean -
  6. ^ Thomas, Robert, Jr. (1983-04-09). "Schlichter admits heavy betting losses". New York Times. 
  7. ^ "Rozelle suspends Schlichter for bets". New York Times. 1983-04-09. 
  8. ^ "Schlichter arrested in betting inquiry". New York Times. 1987-01-17. 
  9. ^ "Schlichter Admits Gambling Relapse". New York Times. 1992-07-12. 

External links

Preceded by
Mark Herrmann
Big Ten Football MVP
Succeeded by
Anthony Carter
Preceded by
Calvin Murray
Ohio State Buckeyes
Football Season MVP

Succeeded by
Tim Spencer
Preceded by
Rod Gerald
Ohio State Buckeyes
Starting Quarterbacks
Succeeded by
Mike Tomczak

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