NFL Suspends Five Players for Gambling

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The Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders will be down a total of five players for violations of the National Football League’s strict gambling policy for players.

Four Lions — wide receivers Jameson Williams, Quintez Cephus, and Stanley Berryhill, plus safety C.J. Moore — and defensive end Shaka Toney of the Washington Commanders were the affected players.

Williams and Berryhill have been suspended for six games each, but they will still be allowed to participate in the team’s off-season activities and preseason games. They will begin serving their suspensions when the final roster cuts are made in August before the regular season begins.

The other three players, Cephus, Moore, and Toney, have been suspended for a full year, and they won’t be eligible to apply for reinstatement until April of 2024. This mirrors the penalty that former Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was hit with in March of 2022, when he was suspended for the entire season. Ridley bet on NFL games while he was away from the team to address mental health issues.

Ridley was granted reinstatement in March 2023, and now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The Lions Release Cephus and Moore

With Cephus and Moore not eligible to play for the entire 2023 season, the Lions have released them.

“As a result of an NFL investigation, it came to our attention that a few of our players had violated the league’s gambling policy, said Lions General Manager Brad Holmes. “These players exhibited decision making that is not consistent with our organizational values and violates league rules. We have made the decision to part ways with Quintez and C.J. immediately. 

“We are disappointed by the decision making demonstrated by Stanley and Jameson and will work with both players to ensure they understand the severity of these violations and have clarity on the league rules moving forward.”

Berryhill was a rookie last season, and he spent most of 2022 on the Lions’ practice squad. Williams was the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 draft, and missed the first 11 games of the season while recovering from an ACL tear.

Commanders Comment on Toney Suspension

The Commanders have not announced any roster moves involving Toney. But the team did release a statement following the news of his suspension.

“We have been made aware of the suspension of Shaka Toney. We have cooperated fully with the NFL’s investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions.”

Toney was a seventh round draft pick of the Commanders in 2021 and he has appeared in 21 games. He has 16 career tackles and 1.5 sacks.

The Differences in the Suspensions

The NFL’s gambling policy covers betting on NFL games and betting on other events while at an NFL facility. These two separate types of violations are why the suspensions of the five players are different.

Cephus, Moore, and Toney placed wagers on actual NFL games, resulting in their year-long suspensions. The NFL did say in its findings that there was no evidence that “any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way.”

Williams and Berryhill were found to have bet on non-NFL games, but did so while at a league facility. This prohibition includes any club or league facility, venue, or practice facility. That is why their suspensions are for only six games. 

“Jameson takes full responsibility for his actions and is very apologetic to the NFL, his teammates, and the fans and city of Detroit,” Williams’ representation, Alliance Sports, said in a released statement. “However, it is important to note that Jameson’s violation was not for betting on football, but rather due to a technical rule regarding the actual location in which the online bet was placed.”

With his six-game suspension Williams will now miss 17 of the first 23 games of his NFL career.

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