More suspensions on the way?
Though the NFL is fantastic at keeping itself in the news all year, the league is in a period of downtime at the moment, about a month after the annual draft and a few months before the start of the season. That is not to say, though, that the league’s wheels aren’t always in motion. According to ESPN’s David Purdum, the NFL is investigating a “second wave” of potential violations of the league’s gambling policy.
The NFL was one of the leading opponents of sports betting for years, but when the US Supreme Court overturned PASPA in 2018, allowing states to legalize sports betting, the league made an about-face. It has three official sports betting partners in Caesars, FanDuel, and DraftKings, betting lines are a part of virtually every telecast, and both the Washington Commanders and Arizona Cardinals will have sportsbooks in their stadiums this coming season.
But the league also has strict rules on gambling. League and team employees are forbidden from betting on NFL games or any league event. Players can bet on other sports, but cannot do so from team or league facilities.
Purdum gave no further detail – he may not have any – on what exact violations are currently being investigated, but it’s not hard to guess, particularly given the recent disciplinary actions taken by the league.
A month ago, the NFL handed down suspensions to five players for violating sports betting policy. Detroit Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus, Lions safety D.J. Moore, and Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney were all suspended indefinitely (at least one year) for allegedly betting on NFL games. Lions wide receivers Stanley Berryhill and 2022 first-round draft pick Jameson Williams were suspended for six months for allegedly betting on non-NFL games, but doing it from a team facility.
The Lions released Cephus and Moore not long after the suspensions.
Gambling rules violations becoming more common
And those were just the latest gambling-related suspensions in the NFL. The highest-profile one happened in March 2022, when budding star wide receiver Calvin Ridley, then of the Atlanta Falcons, was found to have placed three parlay bets on NFL games in November 2021, when he was away from the team to tend to his mental health. All of the bets included the Falcons and all had them winning.
Ridley placed all the bets from a mobile app in Florida and said that he wagered $1,500 in total, a lot for most people, but a pittance for him. The Falcons traded Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars in November 2022 and he was reinstated by the league this March.
In December 2019, the NFL suspended Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw for betting on NFL games, including ones in which his team played. He was on injured reserve when he placed the bets and did not play in the games. Shaw was reinstated in March 2021, but has not played since his suspension.
And this past December, New York Jets wide receiver coach Miles Austin was suspended for at least one year for gambling on sports, though none of the bets were placed on professional or college football. His agent says he did not violate any rules and is appealing the suspension.
The NFL found no evidence in any of the cases that games were compromised because of the betting.