Best Non-Monetary Stakes for Friendly NFL Wagers (UPDATED!)

UPDATE (10/11/2020):

After this piece initially published, my brother-in-law from Kansas suggested we make the Chiefs-Ravens Week 3 game more interesting with one of the suggested friendly-stakes wagers.

I accepted his proposal and we elected to go the route of a photo in a rival jersey.

After the bet was made (and I lost), a puzzling detail emerged in that my brother-in-law doesn’t even have a Chiefs jersey. Is this betting in bad faith? It’s very possible.

Nonetheless, I am a man of honor. I traveled all the way to Kansas to pay off my debt, and along the way, I spread the good word of the Ravens Flock.

We are about an hour from kickoff as I write this update, so the time has come to bring this wager to its conclusion.

Now that we have that out of the way, read the original blog and find out the other ways to settle your friendly bets:

The popularity of the NFL has experienced exponential growth in the last 15-20 years for a litany of reasons — perhaps the most significant of which is the proliferation of fantasy football and legalized sports gambling.

This website has plenty of coverage on both of those topics, neither of which, being a lane into which I will veer.

That said, there’s more than one way to skin a gambling cat.

It’s incredibly likely that every single fan spends time consuming NFL content with fans of other NFL teams, which can lead to personal rivalries rooted in our deep-seated desire to see our friends suffer the crushing weight of hopelessness and failure. Relationship-ending rifts have, undoubtedly, been born from relentless taunting between friends in the wake of a hard-fought victory or soul-crushing defeat, depending upon each person’s rooting interest.

The best way to set boundaries and establish consequences for dominance, futility, or mediocrity amongst your friend group, is to establish non-monetary stakes pertaining to the performance of each person’s NFL team.

We all know how money can sour a relationship, so the goal here is to, hopefully, settle disputes without the added volatility of financial indebtedness.

Here is a list of suggestions for settling friendly rivalries that should replace personal insults about each other’s mothers, destruction of property, and fisticuffs.

Photo in a Rival’s Jersey

Photo: (sigh) Me. It’s me.

There is damn near nothing a diehard fears more than the prospect of donning the colors of their enemy. Just imagine if, when Rob O’Neill and SEAL Team 6 found Osama Bin Laden, they first made him wear True Religion jeans, a TapOut shirt, and an Ed Hardy hat and tweeted the photo out before they put a giant hole in his face? Being forced to dress as a Jersey Shore juicehead would’ve probably been a fate worse than death for a man who hated Western culture so deeply. I was once forced to wear a Tom Brady jersey in a photo after the 2015 playoff game in which the Ravens surrendered two separate 14-point leads — it remains one of the low points of my life, and I’ve lost dozens of family members and a beloved Great Dane.

Weird Hair Grooming


People take great pride in their hair and their general appearance. A fan who is confident enough to wager their luscious, flowing locks, perfectly-plucked eyebrows, or carefully-trimmed beard is an intimidating adversary in the friendly wager world. It forces you to consider whether they believe deep in their heart that their team is superior, or they just want an excuse to make a big change to their appearance. No matter the motivation, the leverage is with the bettor who proposes a hair-vs.-hair gamble. The stakes grow to a very different level when eyebrows are involved, as literally no sane person chooses not to have them. A beard bet can be a very high-stakes affair as well, considering the Samson-esque power and confidence derived from a thickly-bearded face. Of course, should the stakes involve weird hair grooming, a video must be made of the loser having their hair removed, ideally by the winner.



Nothing is a more permanent reminder of being a giant loser than an ill-advised tattoo. Just ask anyone with a ring-finger tattoo from a failed marriage. An even more dangerous game is to get a tattoo that will be regretted from the second the ink binds with the cells of the dermis layer of skin. The only redeeming quality of a lost-bet tattoo, is that there’s a reasonable explanation for why the owner has it on their body — but it doesn’t make the tattoo any less ridiculous-looking. There are some decisions that a person can allow their friends to make for them with relative confidence in the outcome as a net positive, like picking apps for the table at the bar, or which pizza place to order from. Picking out a tattoo is very much not on the list of choices that should be left up to friends — which makes it a great consequence of losing a friendly wager! Typically, the end result will be silly words; phallic imagery; and, almost always, placement on an embarrassing part of the body. Tattoo bets can be the great equalizer in a friendship if they’re an annual tradition, as it becomes a club that nobody wants to be part of, but can also galvanize those who have suffered the same fate. Alternatively, you could end up with two entire butt-cheeks full of horrible, identical tattoos if you happen to be a really bad or unlucky gambler.

Eat Unusual Food

Nobody likes being forced to eat something they don’t like, or even something they think they won’t like. Occasionally, this results in the expansion of horizons and a matured palette; signs of a person willing to grow and explore the world around them. This is absolutely not the case when the new food is the consequence of losing a wager. Sometimes, what is being eaten isn’t even food; it’s just not something that’s been deemed poisonous or otherwise dangerous for human consumption. Some examples include food that is intolerably hot, mouth-puckeringly sour, or having a texture that is known to induce dry-heaving. Additionally, still-alive “food” is often suggested in these situations, such as insects or a freshly purchased goldfish. Finally, inanimate objects are also a popular choice for a food bet. One of the most fun parts of bets like this, is the possibility that, not only the loser vomits, but also the onlookers. There’s almost nothing that brings friends together like throwing-up while laughing.

(Featured Image Credit: Scott Strazzante, The San Francisco Chronicle)

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