NFL Gambling Scandal Shows How Facts Can Help in a Crisis

Thom Weidlich 04.27.23


Late last week, the National Football League disclosed its biggest gambling scandal in decades. We were intrigued by the statement from one of the suspended players’ agents because it shows how speaking out with facts can help alleviate a bad situation.

The NFL made its announcement on April 21 — a Friday, which is when you release news you don’t want to get a lot of notice. Three players — two with the Detroit Lions and one with the Washington Commanders — were suspended indefinitely; the Lions immediately said they cut those players from the team. Two other Lions players, Jameson Williams and Stanley Berryhill, were suspended for six games.

The NFL didn’t provide much in the way of details, which was mentioned in the press coverage. The organization did say it didn’t appear that the gambling affected any NFL games, clearly a point it wanted to make.

The three players with the harshest punishments had bet on NFL games during the 2022 season, a major no-no. Pro football players can bet on other sports, though not “in any club or league facility or venue,” the NFL press release noted. But the release didn’t connect that to any of the players punished.

‘Technical Rule’

It was up to Alliance Sports, the agency that represents Jameson Williams, to make the connection clear. The agency tweeted a statement. After noting its client took full responsibility and “is very apologetic,” it wrote: “However, it is important to note that Jameson’s violation was not for betting on football but rather due to a technical rule regarding the actual location in which the online bet was placed — and which would otherwise be allowed by the NFL outside of the club’s facility.”

So there you have it. It appears Williams made a bet at his workplace, which is verboten. Too often people are reluctant to explain themselves in a crisis (we haven’t seen any responses from the other players or their reps). But here, Williams’ agents put out an explanation that probably had people thinking, “Okay, maybe the guy made a mistake, but it isn’t that bad.” And that statement was picked up in the media coverage we’ve seen.

The Lions’ press release said that Williams and Berryhill were suspended “for other gambling policy violations, including betting from an NFL facility on non-NFL games.” But that didn’t precisely connect the dots. The move by Williams’ agency was a good one.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

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