NFL Suspends Four More Players For Gambling; Honestly, What Did The League Expect?

The NFL suspended two Indianapolis Colts players, cornerback Isaiah Rodgers and defensive end Rashod Berry, free agent Demetrius Taylor and Tennessee Titans lineman Nicholas Petit-Frere for violating the league gambling policy, on Thursday.

Rodgers, Berry and Taylor were suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games, while Petit-Frere was suspended six games for betting on other sports at the workplace.

Indefinite Suspensions And Immediate Release

Rodgers and Berry were waived immediately by the Colts following the league’s suspension announcement.

“The integrity of the game is of the utmost importance,” Colts’ general manager Chris Ballard said in a statement. “As an organization we will continue to educate our players, coaches, and staff on the policies in place and the significant consequences that may occur with violations.”

Rodgers had been made aware that the league was investigating him for gambling and made a statement via Twitter earlier this month about taking “full responsibility.”

“I know I have made mistakes and I am willing to do whatever it takes to repair the situation,” he wrote at the time. “The last thing I ever wanted to do was to be a distraction to the Colts organization, my coaches, and my teammates…I made an error in judgment and am going to work hard to make sure that those mistakes are rectified through this process.”

None of that matters now as the suspension is indefinite and he’s been waived.

The Rules Are Clear But Temptation Is Real

The NFL’s official policy on gambling is as follows:

All NFL Personnel are prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating any bet, whether directly or indirectly through a third-party, on any NFL game, practice or other event. This includes betting on game outcome, statistics, score, performance of any individual participant, or any other kind of “proposition bet” on which wagering is offered.

Betting on Other Sports: All NFL Personnel other than Players are further prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating bets on any other professional (e.g., NBA, MLB, NHL, PGA,
USTA, MLS), college (e.g., NCAA basketball), international (e.g., World Baseball Classic, World Cup), or Olympic sports competition, tournament or event.

NFL Personnel shall not throw or fix any NFL game or in any way influence its outcome, statistics, or score; or otherwise manipulate or attempt to manipulate any other aspect of any NFL game for a gambling-related purpose. This includes accepting a bribe or otherwise agreeing to throw, fix or influence a game, as well as failing to report any bribe, offer or attempt to do so.

Now the rules are clear. But what did the league expect when they started suckling from the teats of the major sportsbooks?

A player like Rodgers who is on a $3 million deal and only about $150K was guaranteed? I’m not saying it was right. But the temptation is too easy. When you’re a high paid QB or skills player with multiple tens and hundreds of millions guaranteed, you’d be stupid to risk that. But these lower-paid players? If you don’t believe there is serious risk-reward calculations going on every day, you’re naïve.

This will continue as long as there are non-guaranteed contracts and players who look at the depth chart and realize their own standing continue to calculate the risk-reward factor.

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