NFL Reminds Teams About Betting Rules As Player Is Suspended
The NFL "sent a memo to all teams reaffirming that any employee found gambling on football would be terminated" shortly before it suspended Cardinals CB Josh Shaw at least through the '20 season for placing bets on NFL games this season, according to sources cited by Adam Schefter of ESPN.com. Sources said that the Cardinals were "unaware the league was investigating one of its players," because Shaw "spent only a brief period of time with the team this past summer before being placed on injured reserve." Since then, Shaw has "not been around the Cardinals' complex, and they have not maintained any regular contact with him." The NFL's investigation into Shaw "did not uncover evidence that indicated he used inside information or that the integrity of any game was compromised." Betting on football is "one of 10 restrictions on legal gambling that the NFL laid out in its gambling policy" (ESPN.com, 12/2). In Phoenix, Katherine Fitzgerald reported there was "no evidence 'suggesting any awareness by teammates, coaches or other players of his betting activity.'" Shaw's suspension is "notable for its rareness," as the last player banned for betting on football was Colts QB Art Schlichter in '83 (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/30).
HOW IT HAPPENED: NFL Network's Ian Rapoport cited sources as saying that Shaw "went to a Las Vegas casino this fall along with close friends from high school and placed sports bets for the first time based on a misinterpreted understanding" of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on sports betting. He "used his own player card and ID." Shaw flew to N.Y. "immediately upon notice to meet with league officials and cooperated fully" (NFL.com, 11/29). The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Andrew Beaton wrote sports leagues "face a new frontier" ever since the Supreme Court ruling "opened the door to greatly expanded legal sports betting across the country." A source said that the NFL "commits 'substantial resources' toward a 'robust monitoring and information network' to ensure compliance with those long-standing policies" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 11/30).
TAKING A HARD LINE: In N.Y., Ken Belson wrote the NFL "took a hard line with Shaw," whose gambling suspension "comes as the league has begun to shed many of its longstanding prohibitions against associating with the gambling industry." However, the league has "not loosened its rules prohibiting players from gambling on football games" (N.Y. TIMES, 11/30). USA Today’s Christine Brennan said, “This is serious, it’s no-nonsense. It’s the NFL really throwing down the gauntlet” (“GMA,” ABC, 11/30).
MORE INFO NEEDED: In Phoenix, Kent Somers wrote Shaw's suspension was "startling news because it's rare these days that a player or other NFL employee is suspended for gambling on games." Somers: "How did the league become aware of Shaw's alleged betting? Who was involved? How long did it go on? How much money was involved?" For decades, league officials have "talked about maintaining the integrity of the game." NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell "reiterated that" in a statement on the suspension. That "sounds good, but the NFL should do more than just talk about its commitment to integrity." It should "back up the talk by providing us some details of its investigation" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 11/30). NBCSPORTS.com's Peter King cites a front-office exec as saying, "I do think there’s more gambling going on than anyone thinks. I believe fantasy football is a gateway drug; how many players play fantasy football, and for how much money in their leagues? Maybe not much, but the temptation has to be there to use inside info about your own team to use in a league" (NBCSPORTS.com, 12/2).