Gambling has become increasingly more prevalent throughout professional sports with more states making it legal, and the NFL is no exception. While the legalization of gambling has opened up a new avenue for football fandom, it's also opened up Pandora's box for players. Dating back to April, there have been 10 NFL players suspended for gambling activity. The latest was Broncos defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike, who was by the league on Monday.
Uwazurike's new head coach, Sean Payton, recently expressed his displeasure with how the NFL is proceeding with its gambling policy and thinks the league should take some accountability for the rash of violations from players this offseason.
"When you have a bunch of players getting D's, you have to start looking at the message," Payton told USA TODAY Sports. "And we've had a lot of D's in our league this year with this policy."
When told that Uwazurike's suspension now puts the NFL in double digits for players being suspended for gambling violations, Payton said, "Shame on us. ... And we're going to send them home for a year, where they can't be around. The idea that you just go away, shame on us."
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Specifically, Payton takes issue with how the league is approaching gambling and how it's conveyed to players. While he's not excusing players for violating the rules, Payton does say that the league's messaging is too confusing and effectively went rogue in explaining it to his new team in a spring meeting to make it more straightforward.
"You can't bet on NFL football, ever, ever, ever," he said when asked what he told the players in the spring. "I don't give a (expletive) what it is. The other thing is, it's the same as the gun policy. You can't bet on nothing if you're at your facility, your hotel, your airplane. So, wherever you can't carry a gun, you can't place a bet."
Payton added that there is also a level of hypocrisy, as the NFL is partnering with casinos and sportsbooks with open arms.
"I know this: There's a handful of owners that are owning these 'problems,'" he said. "A player can't have a share of DraftKings or FanDuel. It's shameful. Embarrassing."
The NFL is still in its infancy as it relates to its relationship with sports betting, and it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that there are some bumps along the way. That said, as Payton suggests, it does sound like some clarity is needed from the league to prevent players from violating the protocol and, overall, putting the NFL in a negative light.