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NFL suspends five players, including four Lions, for violating gambling policy

The NFL suspended five players for violations of the league's gambling policy, including four Detroit Lions, on Friday.

NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport reported that the league suspended Lions receivers Jameson Williams, Quintez Cephus, Stanley Berryhill and safety C.J. Moore, and Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney.

Williams and Berryhill received six-game suspensions. Cephus, Moore and Toney were all suspended indefinitely and can apply for reinstatement after the 2023 season.

The NFL later confirmed the suspensions.

"A league review uncovered no evidence indicating any inside information was used or that any game was compromised in any way," the league said in a statement.

The gambling policy prohibits anyone in the NFL from engaging in any form of gambling in any club or league facility or venue, including the practice facility, per the league.

The Lions announced on Friday they had released Cephus and Moore following their suspensions.

"As a result of an NFL investigation, it came to our attention that a few of our players had violated the league's gambling policy," Lions general manager Brad Holmes said in a statement. "These players exhibited decision making that is not consistent with our organizational values and violates league rules. We have made the decision to part ways with Quintez and C.J. immediately. We are disappointed by the decision making demonstrated by Stanley and Jameson and will work with both players to ensure they understand the severity of these violations and have clarity on the league rules moving forward."

The suspensions are the first gambling-related bans for players since the NFL banned receiver Calvin Ridley for the 2022 campaign. The Jacksonville Jaguars receiver was reinstated by the league this offseason.

According to the Lions, Williams and Berryhill's suspensions stem from betting from an NFL facility on non-NFL games. Both receivers can participate in offseason and preseason activities leading up to their suspensions beginning on the final roster cutdown date.

"Jameson takes full responsibility for his actions and is very apologetic to the NFL, his teammates and the fans and city of Detroit," Williams' representation, Alliance Sports, said in a statement on Friday. "However, it is important to note that Jameson's violation was not for betting on football but rather due to a technical rule regarding the actual location in which the online bet was placed -- and which would otherwise be allowed by the NFL outside of the club's facility. Jameson would never intentionally jeopardize the integrity of the game he loves so much and looks forward to getting back to his team as soon as possible."

Williams' suspension is the most significant blow to the Lions.

Detroit selected the former Alabama receiver in the first round of the 2022 NFL Draft after trading up despite Williams coming off a torn ACL. The Lions made the pick, hoping he'd be fully ready for the 2023 campaign. Following a six-game suspension, that plan is on hold until October.

In six games in 2022, Williams caught one of nine targets for a 41-yard touchdown. He also added one carry for 40 yards.

Williams' suspension likely means veteran Marvin Jones Jr., who signed in Detroit after two years in Jacksonville, will have a more prominent role in the offense to open the season alongside Amon-Ra St. Brown and Josh Reynolds. The Lions could also look to the 2023 NFL Draft to boost the receiver position following Williams' six-game ban.

Cephus, a former fifth-round pick, played in 22 games with the Lions over three seasons. He participated in just four games in 2022 due to a leg injury and was expected to battle for a roster spot before his release. Berryhill, an undrafted free agent, played in four games for Detroit last season, mostly on special teams. Moore, an undrafted free agent in 2019, spent four seasons with the Lions, appearing in 56 games as a rotational safety.

Toney, a seventh-round pick by Washington in 2021, has played in 26 games for the Commanders, earning 16 tackles and 1.5 sacks.

"We have been made aware of the suspension of Shaka Toney," the Commanders said in a team statement on Friday. "We have cooperated fully with the NFL's investigation since receiving notice and support the league's findings and actions. All further questions on the topic should be directed to the NFL League Office."

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