Just don’t bet on NFL games

In light of a rash of gambling-related suspensions and the revelation that many players were not aware of or do not understand the league’s gambling rules, the NFL has amended its policies to clarify what is and is not allowed, along with specific punishments.

In a memo from commissioner Roger Goodell’s office on Friday, the league set forth the new rules, of greater importance than in past years because of the proliferation of legal sports betting in the United States.

The vast majority of athletes in any sport know that betting on their own team is prohibited. Naturally, that is the case with the revised rules. Any NFL player found to have bet on (or against) his own team will be suspended for at least two years. Those who place bets on NFL games not involving their team will be suspended at least one year.

Those are clearly the big no-no’s and always have been. Now there are concrete punishments in place for each, though the “at least” does leave a little gray area on the back end.

Feeding anyone inside information for betting purposes or enlisting a third-party to place bets – both of which were done by the University of Alabama’s former baseball coach – are both punishable by suspensions of at least a year, as well.

The biggest transgression, of course, is actually fixing games. Anyone – player, coach, whomever – who fixes a game or even tries to fix a game is out of the NFL forever. Straight-up banishment.

On the lesser end of the gambling violation spectrum is placing bets on non-NFL sports. Players are allowed to gamble on other sports, but they cannot do so from a team facility or while on team-related travel. So place as many bets on the upcoming baseball playoffs as you want, just do it at home.

Those who do violated the above rule will be suspended for two games for the first incident, six games for the second, and least a year for the third.

Some players have sentences cut short

This is good news for Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams, former Lion Stanley Berryhill (who is currently a free agent), and Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Nick Petit-Frere, each of whom were suspended six games before the current season started for wagering on non-NFL games from team facilities. The league is cutting their suspensions short because of the new rule, so they will be able to return after missing four games instead of six.

Several other players had been suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games and can now file for reinstatement after the season.

Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended indefinitely in March 2022 for betting on NFL games while away from the team during the season. He made three parlay bets, each involving his team at the time, the Atlanta Falcons. He was granted reinstatement this past March and has played in all four games this season.

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