Former University of Arizona wide receiver Stanley Berryhill was one of five NFL players recently punished for violating the league’s gambling policy. Berryhill, currently playing for the Detroit Lions, is suspended for the first six games of the 2023 season.
Three other Detroit players were also tagged by the NFL. They included 2022 first-round pick wideout Jameson Williams, who was also suspended for six games. The other two Lions players, wide receiver Quintez Cephus and safety C.J. Moore were suspended indefinitely by the NFL. Detroit immediately cut the two, who reportedly placed bets on NFL games.
Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney was also suspended indefinitely. He can’t seek reinstatement until after the 2023 season. Some Lions’ staffers were also punished by the league.
Berryhill reportedly did not bet on NFL games
Betting on sports has been legal in Arizona since September 2021. Arizona sports betting now boasts 17 online sportsbooks. Sports betting in Michigan launched about eight months earlier than in Arizona. The state is currently served by 15 online sportsbooks.
Eric Woodyard of ESPN was the first to report that the NFL had suspended the five players on April 21. Reportedly, Berryhill and Williams were given less-severe suspensions because they placed wagers while at NFL facilities as opposed to gambling on actual NFL games, which the other three players are suspected of doing.
The NFL said it found no evidence that any inside information was used or that any NFL games were compromised by the players or members of the Lions staff.
Berryhill had a breakout season in 2021 at U of A
Berryhill spent four years playing for the U of A Wildcats as a wide receiver. For his first three years, he struggled to get on the field, with just over 600 yards from scrimmage in total. As a senior, however, Berryhill caught 83 passes and racked up 865 yards from scrimmage, including 121 rushing yards on 19 attempts.
No team drafted Berryhill in 2022. He hopped around the league, playing for the Atlanta Falcons and the Arizona Cardinals, before signing with the Detroit Lions.
Like Berryhill, Williams was reportedly placing bets on non-NFL games while on NFL property.
Being that four of the five suspended players were on the Lions, team General Manager Brad Holmes issued a statement.
“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. 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.”
In addition to the suspensions of the players, there were several Detroit staff members who were let go by the team.
NFL enacts harsh punishments for violating its gambling policy
NFL players are strictly prohibited from betting on NFL games. They also are not allowed to bet from “any club or league setting,” as it is defined in the NFL policy on gambling. NFL players also can’t visit a physical sportsbook during the season.
Players are allowed to wager on other professional and college sports so long as they are not at an NFL facility when they place a wager.
NFL players found betting on NFL games receives the harshest penalties from the league. Players that violate the rule are typically suspended indefinitely. They then can reapply for reinstatement after one year or longer if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell deems it.
Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Josh Shaw was suspended for several games of the 2019 season and the entire 2020 season for betting on NFL games. He was reinstated in 2021 but has not played in any NFL games since his suspension.
Goodell made the NFL’s policy on gambling crystal clear in a letter he wrote after standout Atlanta Falcons wideout Calvin Ridley was abruptly suspended in 2021.
“There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success – and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league – than upholding the integrity of the game. This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL.”
Goodell went on to say that NFL personnel betting on NFL games and anyone in violation of the NFL’s gambling policy would warrant “the most substantial sanction.”