“Isolated lapse in judgement”

A year after he was suspended for violating the NFL’s gambling policy, Jacksonville Jaguars wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been reinstated. Ridley was eligible to apply for reinstatement on February 15, which he did; the league announced its decision on Monday.

“Today’s reinstatement by the NFL brings an end to a challenging chapter of my professional career, one that was self-inflicted and began with an isolated lapse in judgement,” Ridley said after the NFL’s decision. “I have always owned my mistakes and this is no different. I have great respect for the game and am excited for the opportunity to restart my career in Jacksonville. I look forward to showing my new coaches, teammates, and the entire Jaguars organization exactly who I am and what I represent as a player and person.”

In its two-sentence statement, the NFL said that Ridley “is eligible to participate in all team activities, effective immediately.”

Three parlays, including his own team

Ridley was originally suspended indefinitely on March 7, 2022 following an investigation by the league into wagers he made the previous fall.

According to ESPN’s NFL reporter Adam Schefter, Ridley placed three parlay bets on NFL games between November 23 and November 28, 2021. One was a three-team parlay, one was five-team, and one was eight-team. All included the Atlanta Falcons, his team and the time, to win.

He placed the bets on a mobile app from Florida. Sports betting was not and still is not legal in Georgia. It was for a short time in Florida right up until the start of the time span during which Ridley bet, so it is not known (to the public, at least), if he was betting on an app that was still legally running in Florida, or if it with an unregulated sportsbook. At the time, he was away from the Falcons to tend to his mental health.

On the day of his suspension, Ridley tweeted that he did not have a gambling problem and only bet $1,500 total, a drop in the bucket compared to his multi-million dollar contract. The amount of the bets do not matter, though, as gambling on NFL games is strictly against league rules.

“This is the responsibility of every player, coach, owner, game official, and anyone else employed in the league,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Ridley when communicating the suspension. “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.”

There was no evidence that Ridley used information when making his bets or that the games were compromised.

The Falcons learned of the league’s investigation on February 9, 2022. It had been rumored that other teams were interested in trading for Ridley, but the Falcons did not pursue talks because they knew a suspension was coming. Ridley was finally traded to the Jaguars on November 1, 2022 for two mid-round draft picks.

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