When last month’s five-player wave of gambling suspensions included four Lions players, the message was obvious — whatever the Lions are doing to tell their players about the NFL’s gambling policy, the Lions aren’t doing enough.
Receiver Jameson Williams underscored that point on Thursday, when he told reporters he didn’t even know about the gambling policy before he learned that he had violated it.
Surely, the Lions at some point communicated the basic information to Williams and other players. But the Lions clearly didn’t do a sufficient job of sending a message about the rule and the consequences for breaking it.
“Look, he knows,” coach Dan Campbell said Thursday, via Eric Woodyard of ESPN.com. “He’s gotten it from everybody. So, look, it happened. It’s an emphasis of the league right now. It’s a big thing, our players know. We’ve tried to hammer it home. Certainly, we did after that point and hit it two more times and we’ll keep doing it.”
While Williams surely knows now, the problem is that he didn’t know then. If he knew, he wouldn’t have committed such a clear and obvious violation that will sideline him for six games to start the 2023 season.
As one coach recently explained it to PFT, the onus is on the teams to interpret the policy and teach it to the players. “If you have a bunch of students failing the class,” the coach said, “that’s on the teacher.”
The Lions had four F’s handed out last month, with two players suspended for at least a year (and promptly expelled) and two others suspended for six games.
The proof is in the pari-mutuel pudding. It’s not a coincidence. The players didn’t know. Williams said he didn’t know. Which means that the Lions didn’t do a good enough job making sure they knew.
And what the players need to know isn’t just the policy, but the very serious reactions for violating it.