The concern arises following the recent suspension of five players, including four from the Detroit Lions, and reports that Indianapolis Colts defensive back Isaiah Rodgers is facing a possible suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy.
“We continue to hammer these things home that we’ve got to be very, very careful and understand it,” said Washington Commanders head coach Ron Rivera, emphasizing the importance of upholding the league’s integrity.
Rivera stressed the significance of integrity for the league and individual players, highlighting the need for diligence. Other teams, such as the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and New England Patriots, echoed this sentiment, vowing to reinforce the message during mandatory workouts and training camp.
The Commanders requested a presentation from the NFL to educate their players, including a PowerPoint deck on gambling. The involvement of senior director of player development Malcolm Blacken and head of security Mike Jacobs underscores the seriousness of the issue.
Similarly, Patriots head coach Bill Belichick discussed the league’s policy in great detail with his team, underlining what players should avoid.
The younger players, who have grown up with easy access to gambling via mobile phones, seem to require extra attention, as none of the investigated players had been in the league for more than four years.
Colts Isaiah Rodgers Under Investigation for Violating NFL Gambling Rules
Earlier this week, gambling reporter Matt Rybaltowski broke the story that an unidentified player for the Indianapolis Colts was being investigated for making “100s of wagers,” including betting games involving the Colts, with many of the alleged bets being made from Colt’s facilities.
That player was later identified as defensive back Isaiah Rodgers. Rodgers has already publicly apologized for his error in judgment, and the Colts have issued the following statement in regard to his matter.
“All I’ll say on that is an ongoing investigation with the NFL, and we are constantly educating our coaches and players about the issue,”
– Shane Steichen, Indianapolis Colts head coach.
Five Players Suspended
As of last April, the NFL has suspended five players for violating the league’s gambling policy.
Three players, including Detroit’s wide receiver Quintez Cephus, safety CJ Moore and Washington’s defensive end Shaka Toney, have been suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games during the 2022 season.
Two other players, the Lions’ wide receivers Stanley Berryhill and Jameson Williams, have received six-game suspensions for betting on non-NFL games at a league facility.
The suspensions will affect the players’ participation in the upcoming season. Cephus, Moore, and Toney are sidelined for the entire 2023 season and will have the opportunity to petition for reinstatement afterward.
Despite their six-game suspensions, Berryhill and Williams will be allowed to participate in all offseason and preseason activities. Their suspensions will commence at the final roster cutdown.
Instances of gambling violations within the NFL have been relatively infrequent. In 2022, wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire season for gambling on NFL games but was later reinstated after being traded to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Similarly, in November 2019, Arizona Cardinals’ cornerback Josh Shaw was suspended for the same thing but has since continued his career.
Detroit wasted no time responding to the suspensions, releasing Cephus and Moore immediately. Brad Holmes, the team’s executive vice president and general manager, expressed disappointment, saying, “They exhibited decision-making that is not consistent with our organizational values and violates league rules.”
Jameson Williams, the 12th overall draft pick in 2022, had limited playing time due to a knee injury. His representation, Alliance Sports, issued a statement on his behalf, acknowledging his mistake and apologizing to the NFL, his teammates, and fans.
Berryhill and Williams will receive guidance from the Lions to ensure a clear understanding of the severity of their violations and adherence to league rules in the future.
The Commanders fully cooperated with the NFL’s investigation and supported the league’s findings and actions. Toney, who started one game in two seasons, will miss the entire 2023 season due to his gambling violation.
The NFL’s decision comes amid the increasing popularity of sports betting in the U.S. Some teams have integrated sportsbooks into their stadiums, while fans often place bets on their phones during games.
In response to the controversies, the NFL and other pro leagues recently formed the Coalition for Responsible Sports Betting Advertising, a voluntary alliance to regulate the visibility of gambling advertisements.