Four members of the Detroit Lions have been suspended, two of them, Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill were suspended for 6 games. Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore were suspended the entire season as was Shaka Toney who plays for the Washington Commanders. In addition to these players, two members of the Indianapolis Colts, Isiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry were suspended indefinitely along with free agent Demetrious Taylor. Nicolas Petit-Frere of the Tennesee Titans was also suspended like Williams and Berryhill for 6 games, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The NFL is getting into sports betting in a move that has come with its fair share of criticism. For decades, the NFL was against sports betting, but following the 2018 Supreme Court ruling that opened up the practice nationwide, it has become so prevalent that it is included in many of their live broadcasts. Now the NFL is looking to cash in on it, but that has left the players in a strange position. They have come to view themselves as both commodity and consumption, a viewpoint that Patriots cornerback Jonathan Jones seems to have, sharing a tweet that reads
“I understand that rules are rules, But I can risk my life so that my team wins but I can’t risk 1K on my team winning.”
I understand rules are rules, But I can risk my life so that my team wins but I can’t risk 1k on my team winning 🤷🏾♂️
— J Jones (@justjjones) June 29, 2023
The NFL has instituted what amounts to six clear rules around player betting:
- Don’t bet on the NFL
- Don’t gamble at your team facility, while traveling for a road game or while staying at a team hotel
- Don’t have someone bet for you
- Don’t share team “inside information”
- Don’t enter a sportsbook during the NFL playing season
- Don’t play daily fantasy football
The first modern casualty of the NFL’s prohibition of gambling by its players was Calvin Ridley, during the 2022 season Ridley bet on the Atlanta Falcons to win games. Ridley estimates that he spent around $1500 in bets that season and as a result of violating the NFL’s gambling policy, Ridley was suspended for an entire season. Ridley forfeited the 11 million dollar salary he would have otherwise earned that year as well. The NFL does not have a track record of handing out consistent penalties for player misconduct be it domestic violence or their level of involvement in cheating scandals. However, on the issue of player gambling, the suspensions so far have been fairly uniform.
The message from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell’s office seems to be crystal clear, they are willing to suspend players in order to protect their idea of the integrity of the league (and the league’s money) on the issue of players placing bets. Of course, all of the players suspended are Black players because the NFL is largely a league filled with Black players. Black people in general are not big sports bettors comprising anywhere from 15-29 percent of sports betting across the various sites used for sports betting. In general, this is probably because the average Black person does not have disposable income or see the benefit to them of betting on sports. In any case, if there are any more gambling infractions, the NFL will not hesitate to swing the hammer down hard in order to get its point across regardless of what the individual players might think of it.