DETROIT — Four Lions players, including 2022 first-round pick Jameson Williams, were among five players leaguewide to be suspended for violating the NFL’s gambling policy after an investigation by the league.
Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus and safety C.J. Moore have been suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games, as was Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney. They can reapply for reinstatement after one year, although Detroit announced that its two players have been released.
Second-year wide receivers Williams and Stanley Berryhill are being suspended for six games each for mobile betting that occurred at the Lions’ Allen Park facility. These two did not bet on NFL games, the team said.
The NFL noted in its announcement that it uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised by the players’ betting.
The Lions became aware of the NFL’s investigation about a month ago before the league reached a final decision.
“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,” Detroit general manager Brad Holmes said in a statement. “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.”
Separate from these punishments, several Lions staff members in various departments were dismissed last month for violating the gambling policy, a source told ESPN.
The Commanders also released a statement saying they had been made aware of Toney’s suspension.
“We have cooperated fully with the NFL’s investigation since receiving notice and support the league’s findings and actions,” the team said. “All further questions on the topic should be directed to the NFL League Office.”
According to league policy, NFL players and personnel cannot bet on NFL games, the draft or any league-related activities under any circumstances. They also cannot place any bets while at a team facility or on team-related travel.
Williams’ representation, Alliance Sports, released a statement of apology on behalf of the wide receiver.
“Jameson takes full responsibility for his actions and is very apologetic to the NFL, his teammates and the fans and city of Detroit,” Alliance Sports said. “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 — and which would otherwise be allowed by the NFL outside of the club’s facility. Jameson would never intentionally jeopardize the integrity of the game he loves so much and looks forward to getting back to his team as soon as possible.”
There has been excitement around Williams as he enters his second season after being limited to six games as a rookie because of a torn ACL that he suffered in the 2021 College Football Playoff championship game while playing for Alabama.
The Lions traded up to get Williams at No. 12 in the 2022 draft and he flashed glimpses of his playmaking ability within a limited role, scoring a 41-yard touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings on his lone reception of his first season.
Williams recently attended throwing sessions in California with several Lions teammates and quarterback Jared Goff to develop chemistry. He was also on site this week for the Lions’ voluntary offseason workouts.
Williams and Berryhill can participate in organized team activities, minicamp, training camp and the preseason but won’t be available for regular-season games until Week 7.
The punishment for Cephus, Moore and Toney is similar to that of Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley. Ridley was suspended for the 2022 season over bets he made in November 2021 that included the Atlanta Falcons, whom he played for at the time. Ridley was reinstated by the NFL this March.