The NFL is modifying the league’s gambling policies that will punish players more harshly for betting on their own teams while also amending rules that will allow some players, including Detroit Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams, to return to the field quicker.
Under the new policy, as disclosed in a memo from commissioner Roger Goodell that was obtained by ESPN on Friday, a player who places a bet involving his own team will be suspended at least two years. Bets placed by players on any NFL game will result in at least a one-year suspension.
Betting on non-NFL sports while at a team facility or on team-related travel will now result in a two-game suspension for a first violation, six games for a second violation and at least one year for a third.
This will allow Williams, Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Nick Petit-Frere and free agent Stanley Berryhill to be reinstated effective Monday. All three had been originally suspended six games and will end up serving four.
Multiple players — including Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus, Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney and three members of the Indianapolis Colts — had been suspended indefinitely under the previous policy for betting on the NFL. They are set to seek reinstatement after the 2023 season.
“We periodically review the NFL Gambling Policy to ensure that it is responsive to changing circumstances and fully addresses our commitment to protect the integrity of the game,” Goodell wrote in the memo. “… The revised gambling policy that we are issuing today provides that clarity and focus, and gives clear guidance to players about the consequences of violating the policy.”
The revised policy applies to players only.
Williams’ father, James, told ESPN’s Eric Woodyard that Friday’s news was unexpected for the family and that they feel “great” about the reinstatement.
“I was praying for it, and normally when I pray for things for my children, it normally comes to fruition,” he told ESPN. “Everybody kept telling me that the NFL don’t do this and the NFL don’t do that, but Roger is a great guy, man. I love Roger.”
Any inside information or third-party betting will also result in an indefinite suspension of at least one year. Any actual or attempted game fixing will result in banishment from the league.
Twelve players, at least one assistant coach and an undisclosed number of league personnel have been suspended for violating the NFL’s gambling policy since 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a federal statute that had restricted regulated betting to primarily Nevada.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter and David Purdum contributed to this report.