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Despite hypocrisy, NFL players have no scapegoat for gambling infractions

Over the course of the 2023 NFL off season fans have been inundated with news of players receiving hefty suspensions for their involvement in online gambling. Some players got the Calvin Ridley treatment, receiving an indefinite suspension, while others have much lesser suspensions based on what they were found guilty of doing which went against league policy.

Trust me, I see the hypocrisy of the NFL in this regard. The NFL owners, all the way up to commissioner Roger Goodell, are lining their pockets with money from the likes of DraftKings and FanDuel, yet they demand their players not participate in the practice of online gambling.

While it isn’t lost on me that it was just over a decade ago when the NFL threatened to suspend Tony Romo for having a fantasy football convention in Las Vegas, yes just fantasy football, they now have “official gambling partners” to help increase the revenue brought into the league from as many sources as possible.

When the decision had to be made to either embrace the gambling aspect of sports, or reject it, the NFL chose to run with it. But with that decision came ramifications, and one of those was what if the players gambled on the NFL?

As we now know, many have fallen into this trap over the last calendar year.

Players who are getting released, or are suspended for over a year has fans screaming hypocrisy at the top of their lungs. I get it, we all do, but at the same time the NFL made its rules and restrictions crystal clear for players. Break these sets of rules, and there will be penalties which ensue.

To me, this wasn’t a “Got ya!” moment for the league. Instead it was a low point where the stark realization of temptation was all too real. The vast majority of the players in the NFL have been able to adhere to the guidelines and restrictions of the league’s policy on sports gambling. And while we can talk about the hypocrisy which resides in the NFL, players should also know they have to abide by the rules set forth by their employer.

This is true for any job in any sector. An easy example would be any employer’s drug policy. Despite marijuana being legal to use in certain settings in most states, if a company doesn’t want their employees using drugs, they can set forth rules and guidelines saying just that. If you can’t follow those aforementioned rules and guidelines, there will be repercussions for your actions.

Like it or not, this is how it works for any company who sets boundaries for those who work for them.

While the league may look foolish for their stance on sports gambling, and being in bed with gambling companies, it is up to the players to be able to either not gamble on sports altogether, or only gamble on the sports which are set forth in the league’s policies.

As for the media backlash for these instances? Well, those are well-deserved on both fronts.

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