Art Schlichter

Art Schlichter
No. 7, 10
Position: Quarterback
Personal information
Date of birth: (1960-04-25) April 25, 1960
Place of birth: Washington Court House, Ohio
Career information
High school: Washington Court House (OH) Miami Trace
College: Ohio State
NFL Draft: 1982 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDINT: 3–11
Passing yards: 1,006
QB Rating: 42.6
Player stats at
Career Arena statistics
TDINT: 105-28
Passing yards: 6,067
QB Rating: 92.21

Arthur Ernest Schlichter (/ˈʃlstər/, born April 25, 1960) is a former college and professional American football quarterback, known for his compulsive gambling and the legal problems that arose from it.

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 harness racing track near Columbus, Ohio. It remained his favorite track over the years.[1]

Schlichter was a four-year starter at Ohio State University. He was the last starting quarterback for legendary Buckeyes coach Woody Hayes. In fact, Schlichter threw the interception that lost the game and led to Hayes' assault on Clemson linebacker Charlie Bauman in the 1978 Gator Bowl—an act that led to his firing the next day. 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.

Schlichter finished his four years at OSU with 7,547 passing yards and 50 touchdown passes, with 46 interceptions. He also rushed for 1,303 yards and 35 touchdowns

During his college career, he was frequently spotted at Scioto Downs with a big-time Ohio gambler. Although the Columbus, Ohio and OSU police departments became suspicious, the athletic department felt it lacked enough evidence to go to the NCAA about the matter.[2] On several occasions he was seen at the track with Hayes' successor as 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] His gambling spiraled out of control during the 1982 NFL strike, including him losing $20,000 betting on college football.[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 $489,000 betting on basketball games, and his bookies threatened to expose him if he did not 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 in the NFL. He signed as a free agent with the Buffalo Bills in the spring of 1986. [8] However, his NFL career was effectively killed when the United States Football League collapsed: Jim Kelly, the Bills' franchise quarterback of the future, was holding out in the USFL and signed with the Bills when the USFL lost its antitrust lawsuit, and with Kelly now firmly in the Bills fold, Schlichter's services were no longer necessary.

In January 1987, Schlichter was arrested in New York City for his involvement in a multimillion-dollar sports betting operation.[9] 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 made only six starts, losing them all. 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. He briefly saw his first meaningful game action in three years, 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[10] 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.[11] However, he announced he would not 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 more than 20 felonies.[12] He gambled away much of his NFL, Arena League 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.[13]

He was released from prison on June 16, 2006[14] and resided with his mother in Washington Court House, Ohio. By one estimate, he owes half a million dollars in restitution.

Schlichter 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 much of Ohio outside of Cleveland and Cincinnati, the Buckeyes' starting quarterback is a major celebrity.

In 2007, Schlichter was listed as the #7 all-time draft bust on the NFL Network's Top 10 Draft Busts episode.[15] In an updated list aired on April 16, 2010, Schlichter was moved to the #4 draft bust of all time,[16] and in a video listing the top 10 quarterback draft busts of all time, Schlichter was listed #3, behind #2 JaMarcus Russell and #1 Ryan Leaf.[17]

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

On February 9, 2011, reports emerged that Schlichter was under investigation for fraud.[18] Schlichter was charged with a first-degree felony in connection with the theft of more than $1 million on February 14, 2011.[19]

On September 15, 2011 Schlichter was sentenced to 10 years in state prison for his involvement in a million-dollar ticket scam. While under house arrest awaiting assignment to a state prison, Schlichter tested positive for cocaine while serving a house arrest sentence on federal charges resulting from the same case (and while still on probation from his Indiana sentence) on January 19, 2012.[20] As a result of the positive drug test, Schlicter was sentenced to 10 years, 7 months in federal prison (up from an original 8 years, 4 months sentence originally agreed to on the fraud case) to be served concurrently with the Ohio sentence, plus $2.2 million in restitution; the Indiana probation was canceled with the federal sentence.[21]


  1. 1 2 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. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  3. 1 2 MacGregor, Scott (2000-07-02). "Art Schlichter: Bad bets and wasted talent". Cincinnati Enquirer. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  4. 1 2 3 "Schlichter on long road to straight and narrow". (formerly CBS Sportsline). 2007-01-29. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  5. "Schlichter hoping to capitalize on possibly his final chance to come clean". USA Today. 2007-01-08. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
  6. Thomas, Robert, Jr. (1983-04-09). "Schlichter admits heavy betting losses". New York Times. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  7. "Rozelle suspends Schlichter for bets". New York Times. 1983-05-21. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  9. "Schlichter arrested in betting inquiry". New York Times. 1987-01-17. Retrieved 2011-06-12.
  10. "Schlichter drives Detroit to another Arena football title". The Argus-Press. August 13, 1990. Retrieved February 15, 2013.
  11. "Schlichter Admits Gambling Relapse". New York Times. 1992-07-12. Retrieved 2007-08-18.
  12. "". 2011-04-08. Archived from the original on 23 July 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  13. Beyerlein, Tom (2007-04-16). "Dayton, Ohio, news and information". DaytonDailyNews. Archived from the original on 4 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  14. "The Columbus Dispatch – Local/State | The Columbus Dispatch". Archived from the original on 22 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  15. "NFL Top Ten Draft Busts #7 Art Schlichter". YouTube. 2011-01-06. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  16. "Top 10 draft busts". NFL. 2010-04-16. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  17. "Top 10 QB draft busts". NFL. 2010-09-01. Retrieved 2013-04-05.
  18. "Art Schlichter, Ex-OSU Quarterback, Probed in Super Bowl Tickets Scam – Crimesider". CBS News. 2011-02-09. Archived from the original on 29 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  19. Wagner, Mike (2011-02-14). "Schlichter charged with felony in million-dollar theft". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved 2011-06-13.
  20. Smith, Michael David (January 19, 2012). "Art Schlichter fails drug tests while under house arrest". Retrieved 2012-01-19.
  21. Gray, Kathy Lynn (May 4, 2012). "Judge sentences former quarterback Art Schlichter to 10 years behind bars". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved September 22, 2012.

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