The NFL likes to look tough when it can, which is why it has suspended Arizona Cardinals defensive back Josh Shaw until 2021 at the earliest.
Whenever it can, the NFL likes to flex its muscles and throw the book at someone. It’s why Vontaze Burfict was suspended for the season earlier this year. It is why Myles Garrett isn’t going to play until next season at the earliest.
It’ also why John Shaw is not going to play until 2021 at the earliest.
Two of those three names are pretty well known, as is what they got suspended for. Burfict can’t seem to stop making dirty hits on people. Garrett’s now-infamous helmet swing will not be forgotten anytime soon.
Josh Shaw (whoever he is) must have done something serious to get hit with a more substantial suspension than both of those guys. The truth is, he did, but he didn’t—and the NFL made sure to say that when it announced Shaw was being suspended indefinitely for gambling on NFL games.
He can apply for reinstatement in February 2021.
The NFL actually had almost nothing to do with building a case against Shaw. He did it all for them. According to Ian Rappaport, Shaw went to Vegas with some high school buddies earlier in the season. Thinking it was legal, he placed a few bets on games.
He didn’t try to hide it and even used his own ID and casino player’s card. Once he realized he made a mistake, he flew to New York, where he cooperated fully with the NFL.
Shaw did not use any inside information, his team (the Arizona Cardinals) were not aware of his gambling, and he didn’t impact the outcome of any games since he has been on the IR the entire season.
We don’t know if he bet on any Cardinals games, how much he bet or with who. Since the league has not had a history of gambling issues (or at least guys caught doing so), there isn’t much precedent for Goodell to follow.
Paul Hornung and Alex Karras were suspended for a season back in 1963 for betting on games (never on their team and usually $100). It didn’t happen again until 1983 when then-Baltimore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter bet so much he couldn’t pay off his bookies.
He, too, was suspended for a season.
But since Roger Goodell wants to look like he is cracking down, he is breaking with precedent and dinging Shaw for two seasons—or so it seems.
It sounds like Shaw is going to plead ignorance in his appeal and ask for leniency. If the league had a heart, it would listen to what he says and give it to him – but it doesn’t have a heart.
The league needs a scapegoat, someone it can use as proof that gambling may be an issue in the NFL. Said scapegoat has to have the book thrown at him, of course. With a minimum suspension of two seasons, it looks like they threw it at Shaw—but not really.
Shaw has been out for the entire season this year, making getting suspended for this season a moot point. The Cardinals only signed him to a one-year deal for $895,000; he is not likely going to be a priority to resign in the off-season.
Since he can’t play next season, no one is going to sign him. Even if he were eligible, he very well would have gone unsigned anyway.
So, the NFL just threw the book at a guy who already couldn’t play this season and likely wouldn’t have been playing next season anyway. Way to flex those muscles, NFL.
This article was edited by Gerelyn Terzo.
Last modified: January 22, 2020 11:41 PM UTC