The NFL on Thursday suspended three players for at least a full season and another for six games in the latest batch of penalties for violations of the league’s gambling policy.
Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers and defensive end Rashod Berry, along with free agent defensive end Demetrius Taylor, are all suspended indefinitely and must sit out at least the 2023 season before seeking reinstatement. All three were found to have bet on NFL games last season, the league said in a statement.
Tennessee Titans offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere was also suspended for six games for placing bets at the team’s facility on non-NFL games.
The Colts announced later Thursday that they had waived both Rodgers and Berry.
“We have made the following roster moves as a consequence of the determination that these players violated the league’s gaming policy,” Colts general manager Chris Ballard said in a release. “The integrity of the game is of the utmost importance. As an organization, we will continue to educate our players, coaches and staff about the applicable policies and the significant consequences that can arise from violations.”
ESPN reported that an online sportsbook account used by Rodgers placed more than 100 bets, including at least one wager involving the Colts.
On June 5, the Colts confirmed in a statement that they were aware of an investigation into an unnamed player and would have no further comment. Rodgers posted a statement on Twitter later that day, saying he took “full responsibility” for his actions.
“I know I’ve made mistakes and I’m willing to do whatever it takes to fix the situation,” Rodgers wrote. “The last thing I ever wanted to do was be a distraction to the Colts organization, my coaches and my teammates. I’ve let people down that I care about.
“I made an error in judgment and I will work hard to make sure those errors are corrected throughout this process. It is an honor to play in the NFL and I have never taken it lightly. I am very sorry for everything this. .”
In a statement to ESPN, Petit-Frere apologized to “my family, coaches, teammates and Titans fans.”
“I have always strived to follow the rules in all phases of my life,” he said. “I did not knowingly break the rules. Even after attending a league presentation, I was unaware of the details of placing bets from a team facility.”
Earlier this offseason, five players were suspended for violating the league’s playing policies. On April 21, the league issued indefinite suspensions lasting through at least the 2023 season to three players found to have bet on NFL games: wide receiver Quintez Cephus and safety CJ Moore of the Detroit Lions and defensive end Shaka Toney of Washington Commanders. Lions wide receiver Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill were also banned for six games for sports betting that did not involve NFL teams. Cephus, Moore and Berryhill were later released by the Lions.
Wide receiver Calvin Ridley, a 2018 first-round pick of the Atlanta Falcons who recorded 90 catches and 1,374 receiving yards in 2020, was suspended all of last season for gambling on NFL games. He was dealt to the Jacksonville Jaguars at last year’s trade deadline, and the league officially reinstated him in March.
Rodgers, 25, first made a name for himself as a sixth-round pick with his work as a kick returner. After starting nine games last year, he was expected to play a key role in the Indianapolis secondary following the team’s decision to trade top cornerback Stephon Gilmore to the Dallas Cowboys. Now, first-year coach Shane Steichen and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley may have to count on second-round rookie Julius Brents to hold down a starting role on the outside.
Petit-Frere started all 16 games for the Titans last season as a third-round rookie out of Ohio State, and he had been set to hold the right tackle spot again this year.
What is the NFL’s gaming policy?
In June, the league began an effort to emphasize its playing policy regarding players. The six “key rules” outlined by NFL officials were:
- Don’t bet on the NFL;
- Do not gamble at your team facility while traveling to a road game or staying at a team hotel;
- Don’t let anyone bet for you;
- Do not share the team’s “inside information”;
- Do not enter a sportsbook during the NFL season;
- Don’t play daily fantasy football.
“It largely comes back to a couple of rules that have been around as long as anybody can remember,” Jeff Miller, the NFL’s executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy, said in a conference call with reporters last week. “Don’t bet on the NFL. It’s not new because sports gambling is more accessible. It’s always been that way. And don’t bet when you’re at work, wherever work happens to be at that moment. It has been around for a long time.”
Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Michael Middlehurst-Schwartz on Twitter @MikeMSschwartz.