Last season Atlatna Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley left the team during the season to “address mental health issues.”
While Ridley was away from the team, he apparently did more than deal with his mental health…the NFL has charged Ridley with betting on football games.
For what he terms “endangering the integrity of the sport by betting on games” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended Ridley at least through the 2022 football season.
According to the NFL’s investigation, Ridley placed bets during a five day period in late November of 2021 while on the non-football illness list.
Goodell noted that the league found no evidence of insider information was used to place the bets nor were any outcomes of games compromised as a result of the bets. Goodell added, that there was “no evidence suggesting Falcons coaches, players or staff were aware of Ridley’s betting activity.”
Ridley responded on his Twitter account saying that he spent a total of $1,500; adding that he does not have a gambling problem.
In another post Ridley noted, “I know I was wrong But I’m getting 1 year lol;” adding “just gone be more healthy when I come back.”
Ridley may request a reinstatement to the league on February 23, 2023.
The Falcons noted that they had no updates on the status of Calvin Ridley; saying only that they have been cooperating with the investigation. Via a statement, the Falcons said, “we were first made aware of the league’s investigation on Feb. 9. We have cooperated fully with the investigation since receiving notice, and support the league’s findings and actions. We are moving forward in the 2022 season with the decision that was made.”
Commissioner Goodell sent a letter to Ridley that stated in part…
“There is nothing more fundamental to the NFL’s success — and to the reputation of everyone associated with our league — than upholding the integrity of the game.
“This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league. Your actions put the integrity of the game at risk, threatened to damage public confidence in professional football, and potentially undermined the reputations of your fellow players throughout the NFL.
“For decades, gambling on NFL games has been considered among the most significant violations of league policy warranting the most substantial sanction. In your case, I acknowledge and commend you for your promptly reporting for an interview, and for admitting your actions.”
Prior to taking time away from the team, the former first round draft pick had nine touchdowns with 90 catches for 1,374 in the Covid year 2020. Prior to leaving the team in 2021, he had only 31 catches for 281 yards and two touchdowns.
Ridley is not the first NFL player to be suspended due to gambling…in 2019 Goodell suspended cornerback Josh Shaw of the Arizona Cardinals for gambling on a single game. Shaw has yet to return to the game.
In 1963, then Commissioner Peter Rozelle suspended Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung and Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras for betting on games and “associating with gamblers or “known hoodlums.” Both players are currently members of the NFL Hall of Fame.
In 1983 Rozelle suspended then Balitmore Colts quarterback Art Schlichter. While Schlichter did return to the game, he was never able to break the gambling habit and was later jailed over a ticketing scam.
In 1946 then Commissioner Bert Bell suspended New York Giants players Fank Filchock and Merle Hapes; not for gambling, but for failure to report an attempted bribe, in particular the championship game. Filchock was later allowed to play in the game but Hapes wasn’t even allowed on the field. After his suspension, Filchock returned to play in 1950 but Hapes never took the field again.