“It hit me out the blue," Williams told reporters Thursday. “And, it hit a couple other players around the league and on my team out the blue.”
The league suspended former Lions players Quintez Cephus and C.J. Moore, along with Washington's Shaka Toney, for the entire 2023 season in April for betting on NFL games last year, adding they may petition for reinstatement.
Williams, the No. 12 pick overall in 2022, and teammate Stanley Berryhill were benched for six games for betting on non-NFL games at a league facility.
“I wasn’t aware of this situation," Williams said, insisting he didn't recall what he bet on or where he gambled.
The former Alabama star, who missed much of his rookie season with a knee injury, said he was informed of the suspension a day before it was announced last month.
“I was sick," he recalled. “I was hurt.”
Violations of the league's gambling have been rare in recent years. Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley was suspended for the entire 2022 season for gambling on NFL games and was later reinstated. In 2019, Arizona Cardinals cornerback Josh Shaw was suspended for gambling on an NFL game and he has not played in the league since.
“It’s an emphasis on the league right now,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said. “It’s a big thing. Our players know. We’ve tried to hammer it home. Certainly, we did after that point and a few more times and we’ll keep doing it.
Even though Williams said he was unaware of the NFL's rules on gambling, he accepted responsibility for his costly actions.
“I broke a policy,” he said. “I pretty much looked past those things.”
NOTES: The Lions created a competition at kicker, acquiring Riley Patterson from Jacksonville for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2026 to push or perhaps replace Michael Badgley. ... RB David Montgomery and LB Malcom Rodriguez left Thursday's workout with injuries. Montgomery, signed in the offseason to an $18 million, three-year contract, appeared to hurt his lower left leg in a non-contact drill.
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