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Inadvertent Disclosure: Lamar Jackson and the NFL's Gambling Policy

After a stellar performance on Sunday night in week 15 against the Jacksonville Jaguars, Baltimore Ravens’ Quarterback, Lamar Jackson, may have inadvertently admitted to contravening the NFL’s Gambling Policy.


Following the Ravens’ victory, NBC Sideline Reporter Melissa Stark interviewed Jackson, together with his teammate, Defensive End, Justin Madubuike. When Stark mentioned that Madubuike reached his 12th Sack of the season, Jackson, off camera, could be heard laughing attracting the camera’s and Stark’s attention.


Stark, seemingly wanting to understand more of Jackson’s reaction, asked Jackson if he knew of this achievement. I transcribe:


Stark: Did you not know that either?


Jackson: Yeah, he owes me some money, that’s all.


Stark: Did you predict this?


Jackson: Nah, I call him Baby Aaron Donald…Shout-out to [Madu]buike.


Following a question to Madubuike, Stark continued:


Stark: …You’re not done here… Why do you owe him money?


Madubuike: He pushed me to be great… I’ll [inaudible] him some money, that’s just what

it is.



While the most recent NFL’s Gambling Policy is not publicly available, the 2018 NFL Gambling Policy states:


All NFL Personnel are prohibited from placing, soliciting, or facilitating any bet, whether directly or indirectly through a third-party, on any NFL game, practice, or other event. This includes betting on game outcome, statistics, score, performance of any individual participant, or any other kind of “proposition bet” on which wagering is offered.[1]


On its face, it would not make sense that Madubuike would bet against himself. However, even if Jackson is “owed money” for “pushing” Madubuike to “be great” (e.g. for providing advice, pre-game tips, motivational words), the potential issue is whether Jackson and Madubuike agreed to transfer money because of the statistical result. If so, the above appears to have been contravened.


With reference to the 2018 NFL Gambling Policy, which appears to be the most recent publicly available version of the Policy, gambling is defined as follows:


» Gambling – the wagering of money and/or something else of value, on an event with

an uncertain outcome with the intent of winning additional money and/or thing(s) of

value. Generally, gambling involves all three of the following elements:


» Prize – Any item of value that is offered to the winner. This could include money, other

goods or services and/or any other thing of value, regardless of the amount of such



» Chance – The “winner” of the prize is uncertain at the time the wager is made. The

use or exercise of skill, strategy, and/or knowledge, unless it completely negates the

element of chance, does not convert an activity into something other than gambling.


» Consideration – In order to receive a chance to win the prize, the participants provide

or risk something of value”.[2]



Furthermore, gambling may include “private wagers between teammates, family and friends, or others”.[3]


Ultimately, one ought to not speculate. It is not certain as to whether Jackson’s comments pertain to the Sack statistic whatsoever.


While the NFL may choose to investigate the matter, one can recognize that this may hardly be a morally culpable act, if at all. While I do not suggest moral culpability on Jackson’s part, this is an opportunity for the NFL to reign in the Policy or provide guidance to the NFLPA accordingly to better educate its players. However, one might suggest that there are more pressing issues in the NFL beyond the Gambling Policy, such as with mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, financial management, and more.


At the very least, this may serve as a reminder to athletes and their agents that they are constantly in the public eye; their words matter. Players should be reminded of current issues within their teams and around the NFL to navigate interviews intelligently, with the assistance of their agents.


Again, while this could be at best, harmless banter, or at worst, a relatively harmless wager, the NFL must ensure players are educated on the most serious gambling offences, such as match fixing, betting on outcomes on NFL games, and providing insider information.

[1] See the National Football League Communications, “Gambling Policy for NFL Personnel 2018” online: <>, accessed December 19, 2023 [NFL Gambling Policy] at page 2.

[2] Ibid at page 1.

[3] Ibid.

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