Miles Austin case exposes flaws and inconsistencies in NFL’s policies

Atlanta Falcons v New York Jets - NFL London Games 2021 - Tottenham Hotspur Stadium
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The legalization of sports betting, coupled with the NFL’s embrace of multiple gambling sponsorships, creates plenty of concerns that would require careful thought, well-crafted strategy, and plenty of money to properly address, in order to create the impression that the league takes the situation very seriously. Arguably, the league has opted instead to throw the book at anyone who steps across the fairly bright line of “thou shalt not bet.”

Violators who gamble on things they shouldn’t get a minimum suspension of one year, no questions asked. Receiver Calvin Ridley, who bet roughly $1,500 on a five-game parlay while absent from the Falcons during the 2021 season, drew a minimum ban of one year. The league has levied the identical punishment against Jets receivers coach Miles Austin, even though he didn’t bet on football.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Austin (who made millions during his playing career) was wagering roughly $50 here and there on basketball games. He didn’t know he was prevented from betting on sports other than football.

How could he not know that, you may ask? The problem is that two standards apply. Players can bet on sports other than football; coaches can’t. As the source explained it, some coaches (especially former players who became coaches) aren’t aware of the distinction.

But the league doesn’t care. There’s no explanation or discretion or anything other than “come back, one year.”

And the league leaked the information to its in-house media conglomerate before Austin’s appeal had been resolved. Two days before Christmas.

Per the source, Austin’s contract expires after the season. Why not let him just finish the year and quietly walk away?

That, of course, would have prevented the NFL from putting a head on a spike at the border of DraftKing’s Landing.

Meanwhile, others get far lesser punishments for arguably far greater affronts to the game or The Shield. Six games for steroids. Six games, baseline, for domestic violence. Eleven games for Deshaun Watson‘s extended pattern of trying to make massage therapy sessions into sexual encounters.

The league will say there can be no toleration of any type of gambling, which requires the extreme punishment even in the most innocuous of cases — and even if the coach can truthfully say he didn’t know he couldn’t bet on sports other than football. That’s fine, as long as the league brings that same energy to other ways that the intersection of football and legalized gambling can create problems.

One easy (but unrealistic) approach would be to stop taking money from sports books. The fact that Austin was suspended for using an app created by a sports book that sponsors the NFL makes the whole thing seem next-level nutty.

Of course, the horse has long since left the barn on that one. The revenue stream won’t be abandoned, not at this point. But some of that money should be used to shore up officiating (full-time officials, for starters), to embrace technology that will assist in the officiating of games (cameras in all pylons, for example), and to adopt clear and firm policies and practices for protecting inside information (such as injuries that aren’t commonly known).

Until the league makes it clear that steps are being taken to avoid far greater threats to the integrity of the game than an assistant coach betting $50 on basketball games, any effort to publicly shame him and then to push him out of the NFL for at least a year looks like window dressing aimed at creating the impression the league is taking the many threats presented by legalized gambling seriously.

Even if it isn’t.

26 responses to “Miles Austin case exposes flaws and inconsistencies in NFL’s policies

  1. Players can, coaches can’t. Seen a lot stupid rules in the NFL but that takes the proverbial cake..

  2. It’s almost like they were trying to sneak the most obvious headline of 2022 in before the deadline. The NFL has a lot of stupid rules and procedures. This is definitely one of them. I had to look it up, and not only can players bet on other sports, they could even bet on college football. Coaches are another matter. They can’t bet on anything. I think it has to be all or nothing. Either everyone should be allowed to bet on pretty much anything other than NFL football, or no one should be able to bet on anything.

  3. Miles Austin should sue the sports betting app for not warning him, or restricting him altogether from gambling based on his job. Not for monetary gain, but to force sports gambling apps to protect their customers. They already have restrictions for age and residence.

  4. Make sure your socks conform.
    No legal wagering.
    No jumping into Salvation Army kettles.
    No bare feet.

  5. Maybe I just don’t understand the logic. It was a non-NFL game, so he has no insight whatsoever on what he’s betting on other than just having some fun with his money. This just wreaks of the typical NFL conduct policy of “you don’t know what you know and you know what you don’t know.”

  6. In the Shield’s defense (that hurt to type), one of the reasons players get lesser punishment for worse crimes is the Player’s union will fight to lessen the punishment. Even if it is entirely for PR purposes, the league probably wants harsher punishments. Like what we saw with the Deshaun Watson saga.

  7. What prevents a coordinator from meeting a friend on a park bench, giving the friend a game plan and which player(s) the offense is going to feature? Fantasy and props would set the friend up for a big day on the books with the proprietary info

  8. I finally agree with Richard Sherman’s 2014 press conference skit calling the league hypocritical

  9. It’s almost (cough) like they are going over the top to make sure they appear to be legit on gambling, or dare I say, game outcomes? The classic “Nothing to see here”, when there 100% is something there.

  10. The NFL’s stance on gambling is pure hypocrisy.
    They have no problem making money off of it, but absurdly intolerant when people affiliated with the league make bets.
    It’d be one thing if said people were betting on games they were clearly involved with, but when a football coach gets punished for betting on basketball or a player gets suspended for year despite having left his team weeks prior to his betting, the league is just showing how spectacularly inane their front office is.
    If they are so concerned that the integrity of the game might be called into question, perhaps they could address the biggest issue which causes that to arise, the continuous display of incompetence by their referees.

  11. It really is a flawed system. You can’t wave your finger at coaches for betting with one hand, while lining your pockets with cash from sportsbooks with the other. Enforcing no gambling on NFL games is fair, but no gambling on any sport seems ridiculous. It’s clearly unethical to gamble on games where you may have influence or inside information. If the NFL thinks gambling altogether is unethical, why are they taking profit from it?

  12. He knew the rule and broke it. Stupid rule? yes. Inconsistent? definitely. Absurd? surely.

    Follow the rules or work to change them…but don’t complain after the fact that you were caught.

  13. the nfl doesn’t care about gambling, or austin or ridley, just appearances. they want to appear to care about it because they believe it to be in their best interest financially (the only real interest of the league).

    and they don’t care what you or i think as long as we gobble up their product.

  14. The NFL has sponsorships from beer companies and car manufacturers too. Yet, you don’t complain about the “intersection” of those NFL elements when a coach or player is caught DUI… or worse, that Chiefs ex-coach harming a kid while drunk.

    Why the double standard with gambling sponsorships?

  15. It’s miles Austin’s responsibility to know the rules. Ignorance is no excuse. If you get pulled over with a traffic violation and say I didn’t know the law that’s tough. You get a ticket if the cop wants to give it to you and you may or may not lose in court if you contest it. The NFL can create any set of rules they want regarding this. It’s a private business.

  16. Riddley got suspended for the year, yet a player who is a predator negotiated his 10 game suspension. If I were Riddley I would opt out of the union. They protected a rapist over a gambler. Way to go NFLPA

  17. The NFL wanted to make an example out of him, they wanted to draw the line and make it clear to other players and coaches that they just can’t do this. For all of us who work, we know where the line is at our jobs and we know the consequences for crossing that line. NFL players and coaches are no different.

  18. Punishments for NFL policy violations always feel like they’re based on how a public relations approach. Depending on how good or bad it’s image is tarnished equates to the punishment doled out. For example; Beat a wife and they get 6 games. Beat her on camera, 17 games.

  19. Wait Mike! “Flaws and inconsistencies in NFL’s policies?” That is absolutely impossible! The league oligarchs have worked tirelessly for decades to ensure they provides the highest quality experience for fans worldwide and never do anything to tarnish “the integrity of the game.” I know because Roger told me so himself!

  20. This is such a stupid take. Fans are still watching games after Deshaun Watson returned. Nobody cares about Joe Mixon punching a woman or Ray Lewis involved in a murder. If it comes out players or coaches are throwing games to pay off gambling debts? That could be a death sentence for the NFL. They have to take a hard stance. I’m sure the NFL educates the players and coaches on the rules. If they still risk a suspension, they probably have a problem.

  21. Are ex-players, who become coaches, not informed of the league’s rules for coaches? Seems like things that get you fired or suspended should be briefed and acknowledged to prevent the lack of knowledge defense.

  22. I had $50 on Austin not finishing the year of coaching due to a pulled hamstring. Guess I lost.

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