Josh Shaw, a defensive back on injured reserve with the Cardinals, has been suspended for the rest of this season, all of next season and perhaps beyond for gambling on NFL games.
“The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to safeguard the integrity of the game and the reputations of all who participate in the league,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “At the core of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games, or on any element of a game, puts at risk the integrity of the game, damages public confidence in the NFL, and is forbidden under all circumstances. If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football.”
The league said its investigation uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised, and that no other NFL players or coaches were aware that Shaw was betting on games. The league did not say when Shaw bet on games and whether he bet on games involving his own team, whether he was placing his bets legally or illegally, or how the league learned of his involvement in gambling.
Shaw may petition for reinstatement on or after February 15, 2021. Realistically, it’s unlikely he’ll ever play in the NFL again.
The suspension isn’t particularly meaningful on the field. Shaw was a fourth-round pick of the Bengals in 2015 who has also played for the Chiefs and Buccaneers and has never been a great player. Shaw is actually best known for an incident during his time at USC, when he was hailed as a hero when he said he injured his ankles jumping into a pool to save his drowning nephew, only for his story to fall apart when it was revealed he actually jumped out of a window to evade police.
The suspension is very meaningful, however, because professional sports leagues have long considered gambling to be the most unforgivable sin a player can commit. The NFL is showing with this suspension that players caught betting on games will be dealt with severely.