Mike Florio Rips Lions for Gambling Suspensions: ‘It’s Not a Coincidence’

Dan Campbell

Getty Head coach Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions received significant criticism from Mike Florio over the team's gambling suspensions.

The NFL has recently brought the hammer down when it comes to sports gambling. But one team has been hammered more than anyone else — the Detroit Lions.

Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio argued that that isn’t an accident. He blasted Detroit’s gambling education for its players, blaming the organization as much as the players for the gambling violations.

“The proof is in the pari-mutuel pudding. It’s not a coincidence,” Florio wrote. “The players didn’t know. Williams said he didn’t know. Which means that the Lions didn’t do a good enough job making sure they knew.

“And what the players need to know isn’t just the policy, but the very serious reactions for violating it.”

On April 21, the NFL suspended five players for different types of gambling violations. Four of those suspensions, including 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams, were Lions players (the other three were Stanley Berryhill III, Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore).

Jameson Williams’ Response to Gambling Suspension

Despite the suspension, Williams can partake in team offseason workouts. His participation in OTAs during the fourth week of May drew a crowd of reporters.

While speaking to the media, Williams took responsibilities for the gambling violation but also revealed he didn’t know he had done anything wrong until hearing about his suspension.

“It hit me out the blue,” Williams said on May 25. “And, it hit a couple other players around the league and on my team out the blue.”

“I wasn’t aware of this situation.”

Florio used this as the crux of his argument about the Lions failing to educate their players about NFL gambling rules.

“Surely, the Lions at some point communicated the basic information to Williams and other players,” Florio wrote. “But the Lions clearly didn’t do a sufficient job of sending a message about the rule and the consequences for breaking it.”

Williams and Berryhill will serve a six-game suspension. The suspension will begin the day after the final roster cutdown day at the end of August.

The NFL suspended Cephus, Moore and Toney for at least one full calendar year. They have been banned from all league activities until April 2024. At that time, they can apply for reinstatement, and their case will be reconsidered.

Williams and Berryhill received a six-game suspension rather than the full-year ban because they didn’t bet on NFL games. NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported Williams and Berryhill gambled on college games at their team facility.

Williams is the only suspended player the Lions have kept on their roster.

Dan Campbell Defends Lions Gambling Education

In addition to Williams speaking to the media, Lions head coach Dan Campbell also received questions about the league’s recent gambling suspensions.

That actually might have been a good thing. The questions gave Campbell the opportunity to defend himself and the organization.

“Look, he knows. He’s gotten it from everybody,” Campbell said in response to Williams saying he didn’t know about his gambling violations ahead of time. “So, look, it happened. It’s an emphasis on the league right now. It’s a big thing, our players know. We’ve tried to hammer it home.

“Certainly, we did after that point and hit it two more times and we’ll keep doing it. But, listen, it’s happening, the suspension is happening and what can we do to move forward?”

The fact remains, though, that the Lions had four players breaking the rules with one stating he was unaware of the rule breaking. The other 31 teams in the league combined for one violation.

There could also be more suspensions coming for Detroit. On May 26, The Athletic’s Kalyn Kahler reported that the NFL is investigating a fifth Lions player from the 2022 roster for another possible gambling violation.

Even if they are already emphasizing the NFL’s gambling rules, Campbell and the Lions would be wise to take their emphasis to another level after so many of their players apparently didn’t get the message.

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