Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley has been suspended by the National Football League (NFL) through at least the end of the 2022 season for gambling on league games. In a statement, the NFL said he bet on games during a five-day period this past November when he was away from the team handling mental health issues.

“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,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote to Ridley when informing him of his suspension. “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.”

Ridley can file an appeal within three days; it is not known if he has or is planning to do so. The earliest he can be reinstated is February 15, 2023, which is three days after Super Bowl LVII.

ESPN NFL reporter Adam Schefter provided more detail on Ridley’s wagers. According to Schefter’s source, Ridley placed parlay bets involving three, five, and eight games, all of which included the Falcons to win.

The league said that upon investigation, there is nothing to suggest that Ridley used any inside information or that games were compromised in any way. No coaches, staff, or players were involved and according to The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones, Ridley placed the bets on a mobile app in Florida (sports betting is not legal in Georgia).

The Falcons said that they were made aware of the investigation on February 9, 2022, and accept the league’s findings and decision. Ridley’s name had been the subject of trade rumors and multiple teams had contacted the Falcons about making a deal for the star wide receiver, but according to Schefter, the Falcons did not pursue any talks, knowing that Ridley was likely to be suspended.

For his part, Calvin Ridley tweeted briefly on Monday, saying that he only bet $1,500 total and that he does not have a gambling problem. According to Spotrac, Ridley is in the midst of a four-year, $10.9 million contract, $8.45 million of which is guaranteed, through 2024. If his recounting of his gambling is true, $1,500 would certainly be a tiny figure compared to his income.

Calvin Ridley was one of the top receivers in the 2018 NFL draft, picked late in the first round by the Falcons. He made an immediate impact alongside all-everything receiver and fellow Alabama alum Julio Jones, catching over 60 passes for over 800 yards in each of his first two seasons. Ridley really broke out in 2020, however, when Jones’ missed nearly half the season with injuries, catching 90 passes for 1,374 yards on his way to a second team All-Pro honor.

As mentioned, Ridley was away from the Falcons at the time the gambling took place. He took leave on Halloween to focus on his mental health and did not return the rest of the season.

Image credit: Jack Kurzenknabe via Flickr

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