Jaguars WR Calvin RIdley is one of few NFL players suspended for betting
NFL players’ gambling on games isn’t widespread but it’s previously happened. Cornerback Josh Shaw, at the time on the Arizona Cardinals’ Injured Reserve, made a bet in the city of Las Vegas that led to a suspension the following year. Before him, Art Schlichter (1983), Alex Karras (1963), and Paul Hornung (1963) also got suspensions for the same reason.
Shaw never played a down in the NFL following his suspension and that might’ve been because he was a fringe player. Conversely, Hornung and Karras were some of the biggest stars in the league at the time and went on to play several seasons after their respective suspensions were lifted. Schlichter also played two years in the NFL after his suspension and later join the Arena Football League.
One of the reasons players gambling isn’t common in the NFL is that the league that it very seriously.
B&T: Do players gambling on games really affect the integrity of the game?
Smiley: I think that NFL players gambling on NFL games at least has the potential of raising doubt or suspicion about the games, at least for enough NFL viewers, that at the very least it would affect perfection, and perception is everything. If nothing else, the NFL is damn good at driving ratings and perpetually growing the value of its TV contracts and team valuations.
Part of that means making sure the public has faith its contests are fair and legitimate, which means competent officiating, and also barring players from gambling on NFL games. At least that’s the calculus and it’s hard to argue it has not been effective.