On Friday, the Detroit Lions found themselves at the forefront of the football conversation for all of the wrong reasons. Four of their players had been found of breaking the league’s gambling policies. Two players—Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore—were found to have gambled on NFL games, resulting in an indefinite suspension and their immediate release from the team. Two other players—Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill—bet on non-NFL games while on team facilities and were suspended for six games.
There is little doubt that all four of these players made huge errors in judgment. The rules are the rules, and when millions of dollars are on the line, it’s your responsibility to know and follow every detail of those policies.
But just because a rule exists doesn’t mean it’s a just and fair rule. The NFL is constantly changing its own rulebook to make the game better, and it’s worth considering whether this policy needs changing.
Obviously, there needs to be a pretty hard line in the sand with players betting on NFL games. Not only are players privy to insider information that makes it an uneven playing field for sports gambling, but it obviously threatens the integrity of the games itself—with players potentially incentivized to throw games. Indefinite suspensions are totally fair and necessary.
But what about betting on non-NFL games? It is completely legal for players to gamble on these games from their own homes on their own time. But here’s what the rulebook states is not allowed by NFL policy, as it relates to the Lions’ instances:
Gambling in the Workplace: NFL Personnel shall not engage in any form of gambling while in any Club or League setting including, without limitation, locker rooms, practice or office facilities, team buses, trains, flights, or hotels, or while traveling on Club or League business. For clarity, playing cards or other casino-type games is permitted as long as nothing of value is wagered.
Today’s Question of the Day is:
Does the NFL need to change its gambling policies?
My answer: I think it does. Ignoring the hypocrisy of the NFL both distancing itself from sports gambling and trying to cash in on the movement, this “gambling in the workplace” policy seems nonsensical. I understand banning it from the team facility and stadium, but it makes far less sense to restrict players while on a flight, bus, or in a hotel room. For most players, this is time players get to themselves. They can watch movies, play games on their phone, or read a book. So why restrict them from gambling when they are allowed to do that during similar free time at their own homes?
Maybe it’s an enforcement issue. Maybe it’d be harder to track when a player is on facility grounds vs. in a hotel or on a bus. If that’s the case, then just ban the players from sports gambling completely. Nitpicking where a player can and cannot gamble was bound to lead to some mistakes by players—and given that this is coming with a six-game suspension, the punishment seems to be way disproportionate to the violation.
So I have three suggestions for the NFL:
- Ban sports gambling completely for NFL players, OR
- Ban non-NFL gambling only at the team facility and stadiums. Free time on other NFL facilities (bus, plane, hotel) is permitted. OR
- Just lower the suspension length. If they’re not betting on NFL games, is it really that big of a deal compared to other violations that come with similar (or shorter) penalties?
Should the NFL change its gambling policies?
This poll is closed