INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. lost the biggest bet of his life on Thursday.
He was shortly thereafter waived by the Indianapolis Colts after the NFL suspended Rodgers and two other players indefinitely for gambling on NFL games last season.
The Colts also cut backup defensive end Rashod Berry after Berry and free agent defensive tackle Demetrius Taylor received the same penalty for the same violation. None of the three can seek reinstatement until after next season.
The NFL has suspended Jacksonville Jaguars left tackle Cam Robinson for the first four games of the regular season for violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs.
It’s already been a busy season for player movement in the NBA. Now free agency starts Friday night.
The Finnish coach Kari Jalonen has been fired by the Czech ice hockey federation after the national team’s poor result at the world championship.
Tennessee Titans right tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere received a six-game suspension for betting on non-NFL sports at the team’s facility, although he can participate in all of the team’s offseason and preseason activities, including preseason games.
For the Colts, the decision came quickly and decisively — even for a potential starter like Rodgers.
“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 statement. “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.”
The rules prevent players, coaches, team officials and all league personnel from betting on NFL games, placing bets on team facilities or team hotels, or having someone else place a bet for them.
NFL executive vice president of communications, public affairs and policy Jeff Miller said last week that only players are allowed to bet on non-NFL games after consultation with the NFL Players Association.
Violations of the gambling policy are becoming more and more common with the expansion of states legalizing sports betting and other forms of betting and the ease with which bets can be placed on mobile devices.
And it seems remarkably widespread in a league that instituted no game suspensions between those involving Paul Hornung and Alex Karras in 1963 until Art Schlichter in 1983.
At least 10 players have been suspended in the past year, starting with the 2022 season-long suspension of former Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley. He was reinstated in March and now plays for the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Five players were suspended for gambling violations in Aprilfour from Detroit.
The Lions have since released receivers Quintez Cephus and Stanley Berryhill and safety CJ Moore after Cephus and Moore received indefinite suspensions. Lions general manager Brad Holmes said at the time that Cephus and Moore “exhibited decision-making inconsistent with our organizational values and in violation of league rules.”
Berryhill and receiver Jameson Williams were suspended for six games. Taylor also played for the Lions last season and was released in May.
The other player, Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney, was also suspended indefinitely. Toney, a 2021 seventh-round pick; Williams, No. 12 overall draft pick in 2022; and Petit-Frere still has a job.
Although the league has already reinforced its gaming policy to the more than 17,000 NFL employees, it is also making the rounds for annual presentations at team facilities.
“The league just comes in, they give their take on it with what they talk about and how they handle it and what the players need to know and going forward for that matter,” new Colts coach Shane Steichen said after the investigation of Rodgers’ actions were made public earlier this month.
It is not just that there is more gambling.
A website that covers sports betting, sportshandle.com, reported that an unidentified Colts player placed “hundreds” of bets, some on Colts games. Rodgers later responded to the report with a Twitter post where he acknowledged making “mistakes” while hoping to “repair” the damage.
Rodgers, a fourth-year player from UMass, won’t get that chance in Indy. But Tennessee takes a different approach with its starting right tackle.
“We believe in Nick and know he deeply respects the integrity of the game and our organization,” the Titans said in a statement. “We will continue to emphasize to our players the importance of understanding and complying with league rules and policies.”
Losing key players to suspensions takes a toll.
New Titans general manager Ran Carthon made Petit-Frere the centerpiece of a revamped offensive line. He is the only returning starter expected to play the same spot as last season and cannot return until after Tennessee’s bye week, Oct. 29 against Atlanta.
In a statement he posted on social media, Petit-Frere apologized to the Titans and his family while making clear his bets were legal under Tennessee law.
“It is only being sanctioned because it took place at the Titans facility …,” Petit-Frere said in the statement. “I have always strived to follow the rules in all phases of my life. Even after attending a league presentation, I was unaware of the details of placing bets from a team facility.”
Former NFL quarterback Boomer Esiason and current broadcaster believes that not knowing the rules is just an excuse. He also called on the NFL to provide support to those in the league who have gambling addictions.
“I know for a fact that in OTAs and minicamps, the Jets and Giants continuously went over these policies with their teams so they know what they can and can’t do,” said Esiason, the NFL’s 1988 MVP. “So any player that comes out and says, ‘Well, they didn’t tell me,’ that’s a load of crap. It’s up to the player to be the professional you need to be and make the money you make and play in a league in which you are privileged to play and protect the integrity of that league by not betting on the league.”
Berry and Petit-Frere were teammates at Ohio State before Berry was signed by New England as an undrafted rookie in 2020. Berry spent most of last season on the Jags’ practice squad before joining Indy’s active roster on Jan. 4.
The bigger blow in Indy is losing Rodgers in a secondary already under reconstruction. He was expected to provide a veteran voice in a young position room that includes four draft picks. Now he’s out of a job as the Colts move forward.
“I think any time something like this comes up, you have to push it aside and move on,” Steichen said. “But the players have been good so far in the building.”
AP Pro Football Writers Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Tennessee and Rob Maaddi and AP Sports Writer Kyle Hightower in Boston also contributed to this report.
AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL