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NFL Players Caught Betting on Games


The National Football League (NFL) was established in 1920 as the American Professional Football Association (APFA) before being renamed as the NFL in 1922. It is the highest professional level of American Football in the world, consisting of 32 teams divided equally into two conferences, the American Football Conference (AFC) and National Football Conference (NFC). The winner of each conference plays each other in the Super Bowl, one of the most watched sporting events of the year.

NFL Rules on Gambling

The NFL’s gambling policy states that anyone in the league is prohibited ‘from engaging in any form of gambling in any club or league facility or venue, including the practice facility.’

Whilst this is the case, players are not prohibited on betting on sports outside of football. However, team and league employees are not included and are banned from all gambling.

There were multiple bans handed out prior to the 2023 season as the NFL looked to enforce their gambling policy and crack down on players and employees potentially affecting the integrity of the sport.

Sports betting in the US was illegal in all 50 states until 2018. In May 2018, a ruling was made by the Supreme Court to overturn a 26-year federal law that effectively banned commercial sports betting and the opportunity for sports organizations to secure betting partners. The 2018 ruling offered the opportunity to legalize an illegal market estimated to have been worth $150 billion from illegal wagers on professional and amateur sports.

There are still multiple states which have not legalised sports gambling, including Florida, Texas and California. Eight franchises are located here; Jacksonville Jaguars, Miami Dolphins, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Houston Texans, Dallas Cowboys, San Francisco 49ers, and LA Rams and Chargers.

Players Who Have Been Banned

Since 2022, 11 players have been suspended for gambling on games. Here we take a look at who got caught:

Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville Jaguars WR

On March 7th 2022, it was announced that Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley would be suspended for the entirety of the 2022 season for violating the NFL’s gambling policy. Midway through the previous season, Ridley announced that he would be stepping away from football for mental health reasons. It was later revealed that he was found to have bet on games during that season, including on his own team. In addition to his suspension, he forfeited his base salary of $11.1m for 2022.

During the 2022 season, the Falcons traded Ridley to the Jacksonville Jaguars, where he has been playing since being reinstated on March 6th, 2023. Making his debut in September, the wide receiver caught eight passes for 101 yards and a touchdown, in his first game back in 686 days.

Jameson Williams & Stanley Berryhill, Detroit Lions WRs

Jameson Williams was drafted 12th overall in 2022 by the Detroit Lions, however did not make his debut until week 13 of the season due to an ACL injury suffered in college. He suffered another setback prior to the 2023 season as in April, Williams, alongside three other Lions teammates, were given significant suspensions for gambling.

Williams, a wide receiver, was handed an initial six-game ban following a league investigation. He was found to have participated in mobile betting on a college football game, which had taken place in hotel room during a team road trip.

Despite being originally sentenced to six games, the ban was shortened by two weeks and he was allowed back with the team on October 3rd. This was due to the league and players’ union agreeing on new policies relating to gambling violations prior to the 2023 season.

Similarly, Williams’ Lions teammate Stanley Berryhill was handed a six-game suspension for betting on a college football game whilst present in the team facilities.

Berryhill, also a wide receiver, was an undrafted free agent, being signed and released by both the Atlanta Falcons and Arizona Cardinals before eventually landing on the Lions.

Following his suspension, he was released by the Lions and remains a free agent.

Quintez Cephus & C.J Moore Detroit Lions WR & S

Two more Lions players were also given suspensions in April 2023, though were given more severe punishments.

Wide receiver Quintez Cephus and safety C.J Moore were both given indefinite one-year suspensions by the NFL. Unlike Williams and Berryhill, who had just bet on college games, Cephus and Moore placed bets on NFL games throughout the 2022 season, an offence that carries a much larger punishment than gambling on non-football sports.

Following the announcement, the Lions subsequently released both players, who remain free agents.

Cephus, who was drafted in 2020, and Moore, who had two stints with the Lions either side of a short spell with the Houston Texans practice squad, will both be eligible for reinstatement at the conclusion of the league year.

Shaka Toney, Commanders DE

As the NFL announced suspensions for four Detroit Lions players, they also handed out a similar ban to Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney.

Just like Cephus and Moore, Toney was found to have bet on NFL games as an active player throughout the 2022 season.

Drafted in the seventh round and 246th pick in 2021 by the Commanders, Toney became a solid part of the defensive line depth in his second season, playing in 16 games and making eight tackles, mostly on special teams.

He is currently in the midst of a four-year rookie contract signed when he was drafted. Toney will expect to return to the team for the 2024 season after he is reinstated at the end of this league season.

Isaiah Rodgers & Rashod Berry, Colts CB & DE

Indianapolis Colts duo Isaiah Rodgers and Rashod Berry were given indefinite suspensions of at least one year in June 2023. Just two months after they had punished five players, an NFL investigation revealed more violations of the gambling policy, announcing suspensions for four more players.

Rodgers was accused of making roughly over 100 bets after opening a sportsbook account under the name of a personal associate. He and Berry both placed bets on their own team. Just an hour after the suspensions were announced, the Colts waived the pair, making clear their own commitments to maintaining the integrity of the game. Berry remains a free agent, however Rodgers was signed to the Philadelphia Eagles practice squad in August.

The Eagles signed the cornerback in order to get ahead of competition once Rodgers is eligible to be reinstated to the league, following a promising first three seasons with the Colts.

Demetrius Taylor, an undrafted free agent, was also amongst the suspensions announced in June. The defensive tackle signed with the Detroit Lions in 2022 and was waived and re-signed to the practice squad in October of that year. He was then released in May 2023. He was a free agent when he received his indefinite suspension.

Nicholas Petit-Frere, Tennessee Titans OT

Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere was handed a six-game suspension for betting on other sports inside the workplace. Due to him not participating in gambling on the NFL, he received a softer punishment. Like Jameson Williams, the 24-year old has seen his ban cut by two games due to the league’s review into their gambling policy.

Petit-Frere, who was drafted in the third round with the 69th overall pick in the 2022 NFL draft, was giving the starting job at right tackle by Titans head coach Mike Vrabel. He played all but one game in his rookie season, missing a week 17 loss to the Dallas Cowboys due to an ankle injury.

He is now eligible to return for the Titans.

Eyioma Uwazurike, Broncos DE

A month later, in July, another NFL rookie was caught violating the NFL’s gambling policy. Eyioma Uwazurike, a defensive end for the Denver Broncos, was handed an indefinite suspension for betting on league games.

Uwazurike was selected with the 116th overall pick in the fourth round of the 2022 NFL draft and made 11 tackles through eight appearances in his debut season.

The player must sit out for at least a year and cannot petition for reinstatement until 24th July, 2024. He remains under contract with the Broncos.

Historical NFL Suspensions

Despite sports gambling only becoming legal in the US in 2018, suspensions for betting date back many years before.

Alex Karras, a defensive end for the Detroit Lions, was the first player to ever be suspended for gambling in 1963, alongside Green Bay Packers running back and former MVP Paul Hornung. Both players were suspended for the whole of the 1963 season.

Karras’ involvement in the ownership of a Detroit bar led to reports of gambling and organised crime influence. After refusing to sell his financial interests, he admitted to placing bets on NFL games and was given a ban.

Twenty years later, Art Schlichter became the third player to be suspended, after he lost hundreds and thousands of dollars through gambling. The Baltimore Colts quarterback was drafted in 1982 and had spent his entire $350,000 signing bonus by the midway point of the season. His issues continued to spiral owing up to $700,000 in gambling debts.

He had lost $489,000 on basketball games and the bookies threatened to expose him if he did not pay his debts. Schlichter ended up going to the NFL in fears of being forced to throw games if he could not pay up. He was then suspended indefinitely but had the ban reduced to 13 months after agreeing to seek treatment. Five games after his reinstatement in the 1985 season, the Colts released him following fears he had relapsed.