Lions’ Jameson Williams ‘wasn’t aware’ of NFL gambling policy
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Jameson Williams admitted to feeling “sick” and “hurt” on the night of April 20 when the Detroit Lions‘ second-year receiver learned of his six-game suspension for violating the NFL’s gambling policy.
He said he was blindsided by the ruling, which was formally announced the next morning.
“I didn’t know things like this was coming, but I took me some time, and I just thought about the better days and moving forward,” Williams said. “It’s not my last day living so I just look forward to the better days.”
Williams, the No. 12 pick of the 2022 NFL draft, claims he wasn’t aware of the policy beforehand. Although he didn’t bet on NFL games, he was flagged for mobile betting that occurred at the team’s Allen Park facility, which he says he doesn’t remember. He won’t appeal the six-game suspension.
“I just left it alone,” Williams said. “They gave me six games and we left it at that. I just look forward to coming back Week 7, getting back with team out there and playing the game.”
Williams insists he’s “not a gambler,” saying, “I’m a football player.” He said his betting didn’t happen frequently.
Although Williams isn’t happy to be suspended, he held himself accountable during a 10-minute media session during Thursday’s OTAs. He says he has learned to “make the right decisions,” and hopes it’ll raise awareness about gambling among fellow athletes in the future.
“Oh, yeah, for sure, because like I said, it hit me out the blue and it hit a couple other players around the league and on my team out the blue,” Williams said. “I wasn’t aware of this situation, but as it happened, I took it on the chin.”
Lions wide receiver Quintez Cephus and safety C.J. Moore were suspended indefinitely then released by Detroit for betting on NFL games. Lions receiver Stanley Berryhill was also set to miss six games, at first, but he was waived in May in the wake of the his betting suspension.
Williams is allowed to be present for OTAs, in addition to other offseason and preseason activities, but will begin serving his suspension on the final roster cut-down date. He wouldn’t elaborate on whether the league decision was fair or not.
“That’s really not my decision,” Williams said. “I’m in the league to play football and not make the rules on gambling or things like that.”
Head coach Dan Campbell said Williams is “already miles ahead” of where he was last year at this time, when he was sidelined for the first 11 games while recovering from a torn ACL injury he suffered while at Alabama.
Detroit’s plan is to get as much work in with him as possible before the suspension begins with hopes of working him back into the system once he’s eligible to return for a strong finish.
“Look, he knows. He’s gotten it from everybody,” Campbell said. “So, look, it happened. It’s an emphasis on 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. But, listen, it’s happening, the suspension is happening and what can we do to move forward?”
Lions general manager Brad Holmes also maintains faith in Williams’ character. The Lions have no concerns with Williams moving forward, according to Holmes.
“He made a mistake, and he takes accountability of it, he knows it,” Holmes said April 29 following the 2023 NFL draft. “Yes, he is young and he understands the mistake that he made and we’ve had transparent, open conversations about it, but we have confidence that he’s going to take the right approach, that he’s going to have the right response in terms of what he needs to do.
“We’ll get him in training camp and then we’ll have a good plan for him when he has to depart and when he has to return.”