On July 24, the NFL announced another suspension for violating the league’s gambling policy. This time, it was a player on the Denver Broncos.
At this point, it is fair to wonder if players are going to learn from these mistakes. Nearly a dozen players have been punished by the NFL over the last two years for violating different aspects of the league’s gambling policy.
Still, coaches say educating players is the best way to combat the problem as sports betting becomes more prevalent across the country.
NFL suspends Broncos DE indefinitely for wagering on NFL games
Colorado online sports betting has taken off since its launch three years ago. Those of us not in the NFL can place wagers on all types of sports, including on Broncos games, through more than a dozen online sportsbooks.
Broncos defensive lineman Eyioma Uwazurike is the latest NFL player suspended for violating the league’s gambling policy. The 116th pick in the 2022 NFL Draft has been suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games in 2022. He can apply for reinstatement in July 2024.
The Broncos released a statement on Uwazurike’s suspension.
“We were informed by the NFL today that Eyioma Uwazurike has been suspended by the league indefinitely for violating its gambling policy. Our organization fully cooperated with this investigation and takes matters pertaining to the integrity of the game very seriously.
“The Denver Broncos will continue to provide all members of our organization with the necessary education, resources and support to ensure compliance with the NFL’s gambling policy.”
Uwazurike played eight games for the Broncos last season and finished with 17 tackles. He was in line to compete for playing time this year but will now miss his second NFL season.
Coaches stress education critical in combatting problem
Uwazurike is the 11th NFL player to be suspended for violating the gambling policy since standout wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season.
If there is any lesson to learn from Uwazurike’s conduct, it is how important education is. That is why NFL teams are taking extra time to educate players on the league’s strict gambling policy.
Broncos head coach Sean Payton spoke in June about the NFL’s gambling policy. He challenged coaches to do a better job of teaching players.
“If you’re a teacher and half your class get a D, you better look at yourself. It’s not the policy, but it’s the implementation, the understanding, and the educating of the policy.”
Payton went on to explain exactly how his team handled the education aspect of the gambling policy this offseason.
“We got a packet from the league. Obviously, when policies change, it’s our job to educate [the players]. [Vice President of football operations & compliance] Mark Thewes was awesome. We’re professional teachers. The packet we received, we looked at, studied [it] closely and then we presented it in our own PowerPoint. I probably had 20 minutes on it to really make sure everyone has it.”
Ravens coach encourages players to ask questions before gambling
The Broncos are not the only team to dedicate more time to educating players on gambling. The Baltimore Ravens did the same out of worry that the eight-page handout from the NFL was confusing.
Still, Ravens head coach John Harbaugh said following the NFL’s gambling policy is not difficult.
“I don’t think it’s that hard to figure out, really. If you want to push it, then you’re probably doing yourself a disservice [and] putting yourself at risk. And if you have any questions, you should ask before you get into anything.”
The answer might be to start the responsible gambling education discussion at the college level or even before.