Players and other league employees are prohibited by the sport’s gambling policy from betting on any games.
“The continued success of the NFL depends directly on each of us doing everything necessary to safeguard the integrity of the game and the reputations of all who participate in the league,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a written statement released by the league. “At the core of this responsibility is the longstanding principle that betting on NFL games, or on any element of a game, puts at risk the integrity of the game, damages public confidence in the NFL, and is forbidden under all circumstances. If you work in the NFL in any capacity, you may not bet on NFL football.”
Shaw was not available to comment, and his agent did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The NFL declined to comment beyond its written announcement. It was not clear how often Shaw bet on games, how much he gambled or whether he bet on any Cardinals games. It also was not clear whether he made legal sports bets, although the league makes no distinction between legal or illegal sports wagering for players or other employees.
The standard NFL player contract, included in the collective bargaining agreement between the league and the NFL Players Association, says a player cannot bet on an NFL game and can be fined, suspended or have his contract terminated for doing so.
The league said Shaw bet on games “on multiple occasions this season.” It said there was no evidence “suggesting any awareness by teammates, coaches or other players of his betting activity.”
Shaw’s suspension lasts at least through the 2020 season, and he may seek reinstatement beginning Feb. 15, 2021, the NFL said. He can appeal his suspension, under the terms of the CBA.
According to a person familiar with the NFL’s investigation, the league has an extensive information-gathering system in place to detect gambling activity by a player or league employee. Shaw was hurt during the Cardinals’ first preseason game, was placed on IR in August and, according to multiple people familiar with the situation, has not been around the team or at its training facility since then.
The Cardinals declined to comment.
The NFL for years has publicly opposed legalized sports gambling, often citing integrity-of-the-game issues. That opposition proved futile when the U.S. Supreme Court last year struck down a 1992 federal law that effectively banned sports betting in most states, paving the way for more widespread legalized sports wagering.
Shaw is believed to be the first NFL player disciplined for gambling-related issues since Baltimore Ravens rookie quarterback Jon Stark in 1996. Stark was placed on leave with pay during an investigation into whether he associated with gamblers in violation of league policy, according to reports at the time. Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter was suspended in 1983 for betting on NFL games and other sporting events. The Green Bay Packers’ Paul Hornung and the Detroit Lions’ Alex Karras were suspended in 1963 for betting on games.
Shaw has been in the NFL since 2015 and previously played for the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was involved in a bizarre incident while in college at USC in which he said he had suffered ankle injuries jumping from a balcony in an attempt to save his drowning nephew. It later was revealed that he actually had jumped to avoid police after an argument with his girlfriend.