Like almost every other day, today has not gone well for the Detroit Lions and Washington Commanders.
As first reported by the all mighty Adam Schefter, the NFL has made a series of suspensions against players who were caught sports betting during the 2022 season. The suspensions include Lions receiver Quintez Cephus and Lions safety C.J Moore for the entire 2023 season, Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney for the entire 2023 season, and Lions receivers Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill each for six games in 2023. Following the league’s announcement, the Lions released Cephus and Moore.
So what does all of this mean? Well, the first thing it means is that NFL players are too dumb to outsmart Roger Goodell. Any player that bets on the NFL will get caught and I fully expect the league to crack down even further gambling violations due to the (awesome) rise of online sportsbooks.
What does this mean for the Lions and Commanders? Not much. Cephus and Moore were lackluster pieces of an already thin team. Cephus played a whopping four games last season (not due to injury) and walked away with two catches. Moore was slightly more utilized, playing in 11 games and averaging 1.1 tackles per game. Honestly, looking at the stats, I think it’s a fair assumption to say the Lions would have cut these guys’ suspension or not. However, with only being suspended six games, the Lions decided to hang on to Williams and Berryhill.
The discrepancy in suspension lengths between the Detroit teammates is due to the types of bets that were placed. Cephus and Moore were betting on NFL games, though it has been reported that neither had any inside information or purposefully compromised games. On the other hand, Williams and Berryhill merely bet on other sports from a Detroit Lions’ facility. While NFL players are permitted to bet on sports outside of the league, they cannot do so from NFL buildings.
So what does the future hold for these players? Cephus and Moore must sit out for a full season before being reinstated by the NFL. I am confident that they will remain free agents until then and possibly even after as teams may be wary of signing them due to suspicion of gambling addictions.
As for Williams and Berryhill, I think they are in very separate situations, despite being booked for the same violation. Jameson Williams is a first round wide receiver from Alabama who barely played due to an ACL injury and still ended the season with a touchdown on his lone reception of the season. Berryhill plays receiver as well and yet has more tackles than receptions (1 tackle, 0 catches).
There is a common rule in the NFL that you can do whatever you want as long as you’re good enough. Joe Mixon is still playing. Ray Lewis may or may not have killed a man. Michael Vick literally went to prison and came back into the NFL. Tom Brady and Bill Belichik have been caught cheating multiple times. Things get swept under the rug in the NFL, we know this and seemingly don’t really care. Are there underlying problems in there that should be discussed? Absolutely, but that’s for another day. All I’m saying is that if you are good enough, no suspension is ever an issue — just ask Josh Gordon. If you suck, surrounding controversy is a dealbreaker. That said, depending on how the draft and minicamps go, I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see Berryhill and Toney starting next season as free agents. Actually, probably not Toney. He’s on the Commanders, they’ll let anything fly.