They were a scrappy 9-8 last year, one of the best feel-good stories in the league primed to make a jump this year. But having four players of varying import suspended for breaking NFL rules on gambling came as a blow to the Detroit Lions this offseason.
Now, to make things worse, the NFL is investigating a fifth Lions player as part of its ongoing gambling investigation, the Athletic reported Friday.
The outlet did not name the player, but did say that he was not considered to be a prominent rotation player.
Four other Lions players were nailed back in April, including standout wide receiver Jameson Williams.
Williams and fellow receiver Stanley Berryhill received six-game suspensions for placing an online bet on non-NFL games from a team facility. A no-no.
Their teammates, receiver Quintez Cephus and safety C.J. Moore, got indefinite suspensions for betting specifically on football. Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney also was suspended indefinitely in the probe.
The Lions, who also fired four staff members this spring for violating gambling policy, already waived Cephus, Moore and Berryhill. Williams said he was not aware of the policy.
“I’m not a gambler, I’m a football player,” Williams said in a statement at the time.
The NFL prohibits players from betting on NFL games or events at any time and forbids players from placing any kind of wager at team stadiums, facilities, hotels, buses or while conducting league business.
“It hit me out of the blue, and it hit a couple other players around the league and on my team out of the blue,” Williams told the Detroit Free Press. “I wasn’t aware of this situation, but as it happened, like I said, I took it on the chin, I was ready to move forward as things moved on and I got the consequences, so that’s been my whole plan moving forward from things and just looking at the better days.”
Lions coach Dan Campbell said otherwise. Players were reminded several times about the policy, which is also posted in the locker room. The NFL Players Association sent a memo to agents warning players against betting apps while at work.
“It’s an emphasis on the league right now,” Campbell told the Free Press. “It’s a big thing. Our players know. We’ve tried to hammer it home. Certainly, we did after that point, hit it two more times and we’ll just, we’ll keep doing it.”