The statement issued on Monday night by Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers seems to suggest a belief that, after serving whatever suspension is imposed on him by the Commissioner, he’ll return to the NFL.
That might not be the case.
Rodgers’s allegedly “pervasive” gambling violations, reportedly including wagers involving the Colts, could be enough for the Commissioner to decide to give him the gambling policy’s version of the death penalty.
Here’s the key language from the 2022 gambling policy, a copy of which PFT has obtained: “Apparent or alleged violations of this Policy by NFL Personnel will continue to be decided by the Commissioner or his designee on a case-by-case basis. Violations of this Policy constitute conduct detrimental to the League and will subject the involved club and/or person(s) to appropriate disciplinary action by the Commissioner. Disciplinary action may include, without limitation, severe penalties up to and including a fine, termination of employment and/or banishment from the NFL for life.” (Emphasis added.)
The Commissioner ultimately holds the power to decide how to handle violations of the gambling policy. It springs from his duty to rectify conduct detrimental to the game. The NFL Players Association has conceded that the Commissioner has the unilateral authority to craft the terms of the gambling policy.
Based on other punishments, an indefinite suspension of at least one year is a given. The broad language of the policy puts banishment on the table. The question is what it will take for the Commissioner to go that far.
Much of it depends on the eventual facts of the case. If he ever bet on the Colts to lose, that would be grounds for a no-questions-asked banishment.
Whether it’s Rodgers or someone else, it might take a banishment to finally get the attention of players who are violating the policy. A one-year suspension is bad enough. A permanent termination of employment rights is another.