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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Jameson Williams says he didn’t know NFL gambling rule, was sickened by suspension

ALLEN PARK — Jameson Williams wasted no time flashing some of the accountability that his team and agency insist he’s shown behind the scenes, walking over to reporters after the first open OTA of the year and answering every question about his gambling suspension until there were none left.

“I broke the policy,” Williams said. “Like I said, it is what it is. I’m just happy to be out here, get this time with my guys. I didn’t get a chance to do this last year. I’m happy I get a chance to do that.”

Williams is allowed to participate in OTAs, along with minicamp, training camp and the preseason, although will be barred from playing in the first six games of the season after an NFL investigation discovered he had placed non-NFL bets from inside a team or league facility.

That’s a direct violation of the league’s gambling policy, and all players are supposed to be educated on that policy, although Williams insists he did not know it.

“No, sir,” he said.

Williams wasn’t the only one suspended either, with fellow receiver Stanley Berryhill also getting six games for betting on non-NFL games from a team/league facility, while Quintez Cephus and special teams ace C.J. Moore got one-year bans apiece for gambling on NFL games. Cephus and Moore were released immediately, while Berryhill joined them a couple weeks later.

That prompts questions about just how well Lions players were educated on the gambling policy — only one other player has been suspended leaguewide for gambling this offseason, although more could be on the way — although Williams also was reticent to explain exactly what happened. He says he doesn’t even know how he violated the policy. Asked if that means he gambles a lot, Williams demurred.

“No frequent gambling,” he said. “I’m not a gambler. I’m a football player.”

But he clearly bet on something. Was it college basketball or football?

“I’m not sure,” Williams said. “That was a while ago.”

Asked where he placed bets, Williams said: “I’m not sure on any of those things. It just came up on me.”

Williams either doesn’t know very much about his own gambling, or is declining to say so publicly. Either way, he said he learned of his suspension the night before the news dropped, and it blindsided him.

“I was sick,” he said. “I was hurt because I ain’t knew things like this was coming. Like I said, took me some time and just thought about the better days moving forward. It’s not my last day living, so I just look forward to the better days, the next day, getting better, get out here with my team, run some routes. You all see me running routes. Last year, you all saw me walking around with a football in my hands (because of an ACL injury). It’s good to be out here.”

Williams did not participate in OTAs last year while recovering from a torn ACL. He said he hoped to return in time for training camp, but wound up not practicing until November and not playing until December. He missed the first 11 games of the year, then had issues with drops and timing when he finally did suit up. He finished with just one catch on nine targets, although that one catch went for a 41-yard touchdown.

The speed is very real, but there is so much more to the position than just running fast. There is a lot of work for Williams before he unlocks his immense potential, and now he’s about to lose even more time on the practice and game fields. He’ll be barred from the practice facility for the first three weeks of the regular season and won’t be eligible to play until the Week 7 game in Baltimore against the Ravens.

He’s guaranteed to miss 17 of the first 23 games of his career, an obvious setback for a young player with only one season of starting experience in college.

“Just make the right decisions, you know?” he said. “It was something I wasn’t aware of that caught me. It was just make the right decisions.”

Williams also has shown some questionable decision-making on social media, where his posts and likes have drawn some attention, including a tweet about Lamar Jackson coming to Detroit. Williams was less accountable for those, saying it’s just social media and shouldn’t be taken too seriously.

“It’s social media, like I said,” Williams said. “You probably liked something on Twitter that people had questions about. I’m not really sure why people question me or anything like that. I’m out here with Jared Goff, not Lamar Jackson. I just think he’s a real good player and things like that.”

Williams insisted he wasn’t trying to take a shot at Goff.

“It wasn’t no shots at Jared Goff,” he said. “I love Goff. You know, we out here, we got a perfect relationship. It’s just a liked tweet. Nothing has went down in our relationship. We still have a tight relationship. Nothing’s really happened. It’s social media. It’s Twitter.”

For now, Wiliams is turning his focus to the development he needs to make on the field. His route-running has been noticeably better since he reported to OTAs this week, and drew the praise of Dan Campbell before practice on Thursday.

“We’re already miles ahead with him,” Campbell said. “We didn’t get this with him last year; he wasn’t able to do any of it (because of the ACL injury). So that in itself is like, man, just to be able to build from the ground up, not the season, he’s already in… Here we go, three weeks, four weeks, you see progress. So I think that’s just it. Let’s get him better.

“He’s got a lot of room to grow and develop, and he needs this time. I think that’s what it’s about, man.”

While the route-running is better, Williams still struggled to contribute meaningfully to the offense during team drills. His only catch during 11-on-11s on Thursday was a short out route. He also wasn’t on the same page with the quarterback on one deep ball, while also dropping a well-placed bomb from Nate Sudfeld in the end zone.

“I’m just trying to get better every day because, at some point, I can’t be with the team,” Williams said. “I’m just using all this time to perfect every little thing me and the QB, me and the team, me and the offense need. That’s the main thing right now, just focusing on all that before I get my time away and then come back with the team. Just focusing all the little things and making everything good.”

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