Colts keep Rodgers out of practice as NFL investigates gambling allegations

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FILE - Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. (34) stands on the sideline during an NFL football game against the New England Patriots on Nov. 6, 2022, in Foxborough, Mass. Rodgers did not practice with his teammates Wednesday, June 7, 2023, two days after the team said it was aware of an NFL investigation into gambling allegations about one of its players. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa, File)

Indianapolis Colts cornerback Isaiah Rodgers Sr. did not practice with his teammates Wednesday.

It’s also unclear when — or if — he’ll return.

Two days after team officials acknowledged they were aware of an NFL investigation into gambling allegations about a player, Rodgers was held out.

Neither the Colts nor the league have publicly identified Rodgers as the target of the investigation though Rodgers posted a statement on Twitter saying he made an “error in judgment” — hours after media reports linked him to the investigation.

“Like I said, it’s an ongoing investigation,” first-year head coach Shane Steichen said when asked whether Rodgers will continue to sit out until there’s a ruling. “I think anytime something like this comes up, you’ve got to push it aside and move on. The players have done good so far.”

The 25-year-old Rodgers was a sixth-round draft pick out of UMass in 2020. He was entering the final year of his rookie contract and the Florida native was expected to compete for a starting job after Indy traded Stephon Gilmore to Dallas during the offseason.

Rodgers started nine times in 15 games last season and had 34 tackles. His best season came in 2021 when he had 49 tackles, three interceptions and seven passes defensed — all career bests. He has generally been regarded as the Colts fastest player.

While it’s unknown whether additional Colts players may come under scrutiny, the NFL sent a team to Indianapolis this week to reiterate the league’s gambling policy. Steichen said the meeting was part of an annual visit that was arranged before details of the investigation went public.

The Indiana Gaming Commission has a regularly scheduled meeting next Thursday, but a spokeswoman for the commission said the NFL investigation is not on the agenda.

“We have received information pertaining to this matter and are following developments,” a statement from the agency read. “The IGC is not the lead agency on this matter, as it involves alleged violations of a league policy. We will, however, continue to review information as it emerges to determine what, if any, regulatory actions are necessary.”

Clearly, it’s the NFL and officials from other sports will wrestle with this issue now that legalized sports betting has become prevalent in so many states.

In April, five NFL players were suspended for violating the league’s gambling policy. Four were on the Detroit Lions roster and three — receivers Quintez Cephus and Stanley Berryhill and safety C.J. Moore — have been released. Cephus and Moore were suspended indefinitely for betting on NFL games while Berryhill drew a six-game suspension. Lions receiver Jameson Williams, the No. 12 overall pick in the 2022 draft, remains with the Lions despite drawing a six-game suspension for his gambling activity.

The other player involved, Washington Commanders defensive end Shaka Toney, also was suspended indefinitely.

Those suspensions came in the wake of last year’s season-long suspension for former Atlanta Falcons receiver Calvin Ridley. He was reinstated in March and now plays for Jacksonville Jaguars.

It’s also not the first major gambling issue for Indiana or the Colts.

Last month, Bert Eugene Neff, the father of a Cincinnati Bearcats baseball player, allegedly placed large bets on an Alabama-LSU baseball game. It resulted in the firing of Crimson Tide coach Brad Bohannon. Neff lives in Mooresville, Indiana, on the southern side of Indianapolis.

In 1985, the Colts released quarterback Art Schlichter amid rumors he had continued gambling following a previous 13-month suspension. Schlichter was the No. 4 overall draft pick in 1982 and never played in another NFL game.

“What I got from the whole situation is don’t gamble,” said linebacker E.J. Speed, who also is vying for a starting job. “I’ve been so focused on the game itself that I don’t really get into gambling. I don’t gamble outside of football, so I don’t really pay too much attention to it.”

Running back Zack Moss added: “I think, obviously, they say don’t do something then you don’t do it or whatever. But I don’t really dabble into that too much, though.”

And if the news, the investigation, the NFL meeting or the absence of a teammate from practice didn’t send the proper message to Colts players, Rodgers’ apology might.

“I know I have made mistakes and I am willing to do whatever it takes to repair the situation,” he wrote Monday. “The last thing I ever wanted to do was to be a distraction to the Colts organization, my coaches, and my teammates. I’ve let people down that I care about.

“I made an error in judgment and I am going to work hard to make sure that those mistakes are rectified through this process. It’s an honor to play in the NFL and I have never taken that lightly. I am very sorry for all of this.”

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