NFL ban on player betting seems hypocritical, but rules are rules

Posted on: Mar 27, 2021, 5:00 am.

Last updated on: March 27, 2021 5:00 am.

Josh Shaw’s nearly 16 month suspension from gambling in NFL games shows how the league’s policy remains firmly in place against professional players making any type of league betting. This is despite the NFL’s drive to use legal sports betting to motivate fans, sports law specialists said.

Rules are rules
Josh Shaw, 27, Arizona Cardinals defender, during a preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers in 2019. Later that year. He has been suspended for betting on games. (Image: Mark J. Rebilas / USA today)

Shaw was banned from playing 21 games for placing bets on NFL games while he was a member of the Arizona Cardinals. Shaw bet on a Cardinals-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game as part of a three-team parlay, according to CBS Sports.

It was while the defensive back was classified as an injured reserve during the 2019 season. Recently, Shaw was finally released for professional football.

“Despite changes in the NFL’s tolerance and acceptance of sports betting after so many years, player restriction guidelines are still in place,” said Anthony Brandt, executive director of the Jeffrey S. Moorad Center for the Study of Sports Law at Villanova University Law School when asked about the incident.

“From the players’ point of view, it seems a bit hypocritical,” added Brandt about the suspension.

Brandt previously worked as a lawyer for ProServ, Inc., where he represented Michael Jordan, Patrick Ewing, and Boomer Esiason, as well as other professional athletes. He later served as vice president of the Green Bay Packers and advisor to the Philadelphia Eagles. He was also a legal and business analyst at ESPN.

“Players are not immune to NFL discipline when playing, especially in the NFL,” said Brandt. “Active players shouldn’t do it – for both the guidelines and the visuals.”

Robert Hacker, now a sports law attorney who previously served Fox Sports for 18 years as vice president of business and legal affairs and is currently president of the Sports Lawyers Association, also agreed that the NFL “has historically banned or related any gambling Activities.

“It goes so deep that if you’re rumored to be found in the NFL offices with a March Madness bracket, you could lose your job,” Hacker told “Since the NFL has allowed DFS – Daily Fantasy Sports – to advertise and be part of NFL-related programs, [and] If casinos allow signage or sponsorship from member clubs, one has to wonder how deeply the league is connected to the gambling universe. “

But none of these issues relate to player discipline. “If the bottom line maintains the integrity of the game, it is the semblance of inappropriateness that arises from a player betting on games, whether or not that is the case [is a] the player’s own team or at other games, [it] a bridge is too far to cross, ”said Hacker.

Rules are rules

“Rules are rules, and if the league prohibits players from playing, which promotes the goal of upholding the fairness and integrity of the game, those who break those rules must pay a price, provided, of course, that there is a real procedural process there, “explained Hacker.

He notes how one-time baseball player Pete Rose claimed he never bet against his team.

“But he was still betting what was forbidden and he was paying the strictest price – maybe after the White Sox of 1919,” Hacker said.

NFL players also need to remember that an NFL player’s life is short, an average of under four, Hacker said.

“Even the minimum wage is often the highest these young men will ever earn,” Hacker said. “So why take the risk of abandoning an already statistically short career?”

His advice to NFL players: “Follow the rules and understand the consequences if you choose to break them, which in turn should keep you from ruining your career.”

NFL’s 2019 Hard Stand Against Betting

It was in 2019 when the NFL issued a memo to all players and team members reminding them of the league’s tough position against betting on professional football.

“The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to ensure the integrity of the game and the reputation of all participants in the league,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in a November 2019 statement.

“At the heart of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games or any element of a game compromises the integrity of the game, undermines public confidence in the NFL, and is prohibited under all circumstances. If you work in any capacity in the NFL, you are not allowed to bet on NFL football. “

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